ST. PETERSBURG - Eric, an in-coming high school freshman, visited All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg Friday to get a vaccine.
While the one he received isn't required to enter school in Florida, a handful of vaccinations are.
The Florida Department of Health lists the required shots to enter kindergarten. There are additional requirements to enter the seventh grade, including the whooping cough booster vaccine (scroll down to find a link to Florida school requirements).
“The booster vaccine for seventh grade is a relatively new vaccine that only became available in the last 10 years or so,” said Dr. Juan Dumois, the director of infectious diseases at All Children’s Hospital.
It’s important though, Dumois said, because whooping cough has made a comeback.
“There are some diseases we’re seeing more of that we thought we had brought under control in the last 20 years. We’re seeing a resurgence of whooping cough, also known as pertussis. And measles are also in the rise in the United States,” Dumois said.
Both diseases can land children in the hospital and can be fatal. Dumois thinks many parents skip vaccinating children because of misconceptions.
“The most common is autism caused by certain vaccines, especially the measles vaccine. Fortunately the information that first suggested autism might be caused by that vaccine has been completely dis-credited.”
Parents are also concerned that too many vaccines given at one time might overwhelm the immune system of a baby.
“A baby's immune systems can handle all the vaccines we throw at them,” Dumois said. “In fact, vaccines contain molecules of different things that stimulate the immune system that later protect the baby.”
Another reason is that vaccines are too expensive.
“Those families who don't have insurance and can't afford it can get it for free at the health department,” he said.
MORE INFORMATION FOR SCHOOL IMMUNIZATIONS: