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Vaccinations belong on back-to-school checklists

August 01, 2012

Media Contact: Keith.O’, 413-794-7656


SPRINGFIELDDr. John Snyder of Baystate Children’s Hospital firmly believes vaccinations ought to be on every child’s back-to-school checklist.


“One of the best gifts you can give your children today is to have them vaccinated and to stay up-to-date on the recommended vaccines before the new school year begins,” said Dr. Snyder, who serves as medical director at Baystate High Street Health Center - Pediatrics.


“It’s also a good idea not to wait until the last minute so you are not caught in the rush for exams and vaccinations that doctors see at their offices just before school starts,” he added.


Most vaccines are given during the first five to six years of life, when children are most vulnerable to infections. Other immunizations are recommended during adolescent or adult years and, for certain vaccines, booster immunizations are recommended throughout life.


According to Dr. Snyder, by state law, children must be up-to-date on their required immunizations to start school. Immunization requirements as listed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are:


  • Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for entry to kindergarten, 7-8th grade, full-time college freshmen-sophomores, and health science students.
  • Two doses of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine for entry to kindergarten, 7-8th grade, full-time college freshmen and sophomores, and health science students.
  • One dose Tdap for entry to 7-8th grade, full-time college freshmen, and health science students.


The Tdap booster dose, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control 

(CDC) for preteens at ages 11 or 12 years for protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), became a requirement for Massachusetts schoolchildren last year.


“Children initially receive protection against these bacteria with the DTaP vaccine. The problem is that as kids grow older, the vaccine loses its effectiveness. So, preteens and teens need to get what we now call a Tdap booster dose, which is important not only to protect them, but those around them, especially babies and the elderly,” said

Dr. Snyder.

“More than ever before, the Tdap booster dose is especially important in light of the number of elevated cases of pertussis now being reported in neighboring New York and across the country,” he added about the highly contagious respiratory disease that continues to infect hundreds of people in Massachusetts every year.


Dr. Snyder says vaccines are the only safe, effective way to protect your child from serious and sometimes deadly diseases, and suggests talking to your child’s doctor if you have concerns over the safety or efficacy of vaccination.


“It is rare for a child to experience side effects other than a mild reaction such as fever or soreness at the injection site,” said Dr. Snyder.


While there has been public controversy about the relationship between vaccines and autism reported by the media, the concerns are unfounded, he noted.


“Vaccines are extremely safe, and the scientific evidence has shown no relationship between vaccines and autism,” said Dr. Snyder, echoing the conclusions of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), of which he is a member, and the Institute of Medicine.


Parents should follow the vaccination schedule provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is designed by experts to ensure maximum protection and safety for children at various ages. You can find schedules online at or  


For more information on Baystate Children’s Hospital, visit