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As School Nears, So Do Vaccinations

It’s time for schoolchildren to roll up their sleeves and grit their teeth.

Not for the looming math problems and reading quizzes, but for the shots.

As the start of school nears for thousands of kindergartners and other new students across the county, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services is urging parents to take advantage of its free immunizations to prepare students for strict school requirements.

“The schools have a policy that says, ‘no shots, no school,’ ” said Dr. Shirley Fannin, director of disease control programs for the county.

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Schoolchildren are required to have at least four DTP diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough--shots, three doses of oral polio vaccine and one combined shot of measles, mumps and rubella. In addition, children entering school for the first time must have a skin test for tuberculosis.

The county health centers immunize about 50% of the children entering school every year at their 40 immunization clinics and health centers.

Fannin said immunization efforts since the late 1970s have dramatically slowed the spread of childhood diseases.

“Once upon a time,” she said, “the schools were notorious as a major source of spreading disease. Now, just a small proportion of our cases are school-age children.”

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For the location of county immunization clinics and health centers, call (800)427-8700.


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