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Schools and health department promote Kindergarten Roundup

Sun Advocate reporter

Royce Page takes an eye test with the assistance of Debbie Wells. The event was part of kindergarten registration at Wellington Elementary last Wednesday morning. Currently, schools throughout the district along with the Southeastern Utah Health Department are conducting the annual kindergarten roundup program. This program allows parents to enroll their child in school as well as receive appropriate immunizations which are required for a child to attend class.

Kindergarten marks the beginning of a brand new world for Carbon County youngsters. It is a time to learn and to meet new friends. Many times however, parents are unaware of the requirements their children must meet in order to attend their first year of school.

Each year, the Southeastern Utah Health Department along with area elementary schools team up to enroll children into the school system as well as conduct health screenings and immunizations. Currently, the annual Kindergarten Roundup program is underway and children age 5-6 are lining up to register.

The main focus of the event is to ensure that children who will be attending school in the fall meet health requirements. Immunizations are given throughout a young child's life, but by the time they reach school age, most of these immunizations must be completed.

Current Utah immunization requirements include five DPT/DTaP/DT-(four doses if fourth dose was given on or after fourth birthday), four Polio- (three doses if third dose was given on or after fourth birthday), two Measles, one Mumps, one Rubella, three Hepatitis B, one Varicella (chickenpox) and two Hepatitis A.

Although children have received most of these immunizations before the age of four, some booster shots as well as the Varicella and Hepatitis A shots may need to be administered during the time of kindergarten registration. Because of new regulations, Hepatitis A along with Varicella is now required and in the past has not been.

"It is important that parents realize that these immunizations are now required for a child to attend kindergarten. The Hepatitis A is new this year and if we give the first dose now, the child will be able to receive the second dose before school begins in the fall," explained health department nurse, Dottie Flemett.

In order for health officials to determine whether a child meets immunization requirements, parents must have proof of these vaccinations at time of registration. These records are usually noted for parents on an immunization record card. They may also be obtained from the health department or the child's physician depending on where the immunization was administered.

Many Carbon County parents question the importance of childhood immunizations. According to the Kids Health Organization, widespread vaccinations have lead to a 95 percent decrease in childhood diseases such as measles and pertussis (whooping cough). Although these diseases rarely occur, they may appear even in the United States indicated the health organization.

In order to try and eliminate the spread of such diseases, Utah requires that children receive certain immunizations. A list of these immunizations as well as age requirements are available through the health department.

A child will receive their first set of vaccines at birth. They will then need to have a second set administered at two months of age. In fact, in the first two years of life, a child will receive most of their childhood immunizations.

Vaccines work by preparing the body to fight illness. An immunization contains a dead or weakened germ for each particular disease. According to the Kids Health Organization, the body practices fighting off the disease by making antibodies, forming an immunity to each disease.

Health officials assure parents that it is impossible for a child to get the disease from a vaccine. At one time, it was thought by many that a vaccine would give the recipient a form of the disease which would cause severe illness. This is not the case however.

Once a child is ready for school, local health department officials will make sure that immunization requirements are met. When attending a kindergarten roundup event, parents should bring proof of the child's immunizations as well as a birth certificate and social security card.

Roundup events will continue taking place in the next several weeks. Children who will be attending Creekview Elementary may register April 21, Sally Mauro students April 27, Castle Heights children April 28 and Petersen Elementary students April 29. Registration will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. each day.

Beginning school is a life changing event for a child. In order to make sure each child is safe and protected from deadly diseases, state law requires that immunizations are completed before the school bell rings. Therefore, it is important that parents work with local health officials to make Carbon County schools safe.

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