It’s always a good idea to plan ahead when it comes to keeping children healthy and safe, and that includes making sure they have all the right immunizations.

School health officials are advising parents and guardians to begin preparing to have students immunized for the 2016-17 school year.

According to state code, students must have the required vaccines to attend school, unless they have a medical or religious exemption filed with the school nurse each year.

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All students entering kindergarten should already have had many of their early childhood shots but will need additional doses for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella (chickenpox). They also will need two Hepatitis A vaccines.

Those entering sixth grade need a booster Tdap (tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough) immunization and a MCV4 (meningococcal conjugate or meningitis) shot.

High school seniors should get a second meningitis vaccine.

Another immunization recommended but not required is Gardasil, a three-dose vaccine for boys and girls that protects against the human papillomavirus.

Gardasil is being called the anti-cancer vaccine, providing some protection against cervical and other types of cancer, along with genital warts caused by HPV.

Families with children age 11 and older can request the vaccine.

Sherry Reinhart, school nurse coordinator for Seymour Community School Corp., said she worries most about older students not getting their shots because it’s easy for parents to forget when children are preteens and teenagers, and also students coming from other countries that may not require the same vaccinations.

Reinhart said the immunizations are key in preventing serious diseases that could lead to other health conditions or even death.

“When students return to school, they are in close person-to-person contact. Therefore, disease is spread more easily,” Reinhart said.

If there were to be just one case of any communicable disease at a school, any student who had not been immunized would be quarantined for at least 21 days.

Vaccines are available at the Jackson County Health Department, through a family doctor, the Community Health Center of Jackson County and in some cases at local pharmacies, including Walgreens and the CVS Minute Clinic.

Parents who are unsure of what vaccines their children need should check with their family health care provider or the health department, Reinhart said.

Caregivers can also log on to myvaxindiana.in.gov, a state website that allows parents or guardians to view and print vaccine records. Children must be registered by a health care provider or the health department to access the information.

Reinhart said it’s important to start making appointments now to ensure children are vaccinated before the start of school in August.

“After-school appointments will fill up very quickly, so getting started now will ensure that appointments are more available,” she said.

At a glance

Appointments for school immunizations for 2016-17 can be made at:

Jackson County Health Department: 812-522-6667

Community Health Center of Jackson County: 812-524-8388

Walgreens (for children age 11 and up): 812-522-0620

CVS Minute Clinic (for children age 11 and up): 866-389-2727

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.