Words with Webb: The Ins & Outs of Vaccinations

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Words with Webb: The Ins & Outs of Vaccinations

by -

girl immunization

Believe it or not, we are weeks away from the start of the 2018-2019 school year. As every summer comes to an end, it’s time to start looking at your child’s vaccine records and making sure they are up-to-date.

Getting your child vaccinated not only helps in keeping them protected from preventable diseases, but it keeps their teachers and friends safe. Iowa’s laws might differ from neighboring states when it comes to vaccines since decisions are made at the state level. Child care centers and K-12 schools have vaccine requirements based on the age of the child.

Required for daycare:

  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis
    • Protects against 3 bacterial diseases.  One that can cause difficulty breathing/swallowing (diphtheria), one against painful muscle spasms and lock jaw (Tetanus), and whooping cough, a highly contagious and easily spread illness (Pertussis).  
  • Polio - Can lead to muscle pain and paralysis of arms and legs, this can spread to the muscles needed for breathing and swallowing.  
  • Haemophilus Influenzae
    • A leading cause of serious illness in children.  Can lead to meningitis, pneumonia (very common) and severe, painful throat infections.
  • Pneumococcal
    • Protects against a common cause of ear infections but the infection can cause more severe issues such as meningitis and blood infections.
  • MMR
    • Measles can cause fevers, a rash, a cough, and runny nose.  It can lead to ear infections and pneumonia easily.  More serious, though, it can lead to brain swelling and death.
    • Mumps causes fevers, headache and painful swelling of the parotid glands, major saliva glands.  This can lead meningitis as well.  Rarely but still of concern, it can lead to brain swelling and even testicular swelling in males.  
    • Rubella, or German measles, is a disease that causes rash, fevers, and neck swelling.  Pregnant woman who become infected are at high risk.  It can lead to a deaf or blind infant.  More seriously, it is possible to the pregnant woman can lose her unborn child.  
  • Varicella
    • Protects against chickenpox, a painful and itchy, blistery rash that is contagious.
The vaccines mentioned above plus the following are required for children entering school. Recent state law requires a second-round of vaccines for MMR/Varicella and Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio. If your child is entering 7th grade a Meningococcal and a Tetanus booster is required, and a booster is given before starting their senior year of high school. 


  • Meningococcal
    • This is a vaccine that protects against 4 serogroups (strains) of meningitis: A, C, W, and Y.
    • Can lead to an infection of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.  Causes high fevers, headaches, stiff neck, and confusion.  It is a very serious disease that can progress quickly and lead to serious complications and even death.
    • An additional Meningococcal vaccine along with, Bexero, and the HPV vaccine are recommended, but not required. These are offered for teenagers and those going to college. Meningitis is a very serious illness, and despite all treatments and even being protected by both Meningococcal vaccines, about 1 in 10 people diagnosed will not survive.  Lowering your risk of getting this illness by vaccinating with both vaccines is extremely important! 
    • Bexero
        • Protects against serogroup B which is one of the most common types of meningitis.  
        • Comes as 2 shots given 1 month apart after the age of 16.  
        • Highest risk are teenagers living in college dorms or other very close quarters
  • HPV- Human Papillomavirus
    • Protects against cancers
    • Cancers HPV can cause for woman- Cervical, anal, vulva, vaginal, oropharyngeal, and others
    • Cancers HPV can cause for men- Penile, anal, oropharyngeal, and others
    • Very common virus, almost all men and woman will get at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.  About 14 million people become newly infected each year.
    • This is not only a vaccine for sexually active teens and young adults and does not mean that teens and young adults should become sexually active.

For additional information, check out the Iowa Immunization Law sheet. It has the number of doses that are required by age, and could be helpful to you or your child as they enter that next stage of their life. 


Read more articles from UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics Provider Seth Webb.