Immunization on the back-to-school list

HARLINGEN — You gotta have shots.

Like? Rubella, diphtheria, hepatitis B…

There’s a long and very complicated list of vaccines children should receive in order to enter school, and different ages require different shots.

Chicken pox? Two doses. Hepatitis B? Three doses. And then there’s the MMR — measles, mumps and rubella — which requires two doses. And on and on.

The requirements can be confusing. Pull up the Department of State Health Services website and you’ll see the list, but even that can be a little intimidating.

But of one thing there is no doubt. Your children will need to have their shots before they can begin school this year, said Irene Castillo, director of health services for the Harlingen school district.

They can find out exactly what those requirements are at the doctor’s office, the same place where they can get their vaccines.

Children who lack adequate insurance or are on Medicaid can receive their vaccinations at facilities operated by the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services.

Lori Romero, director of elementary education, said parents will receive proof of their children’s vaccinations. That paperwork is necessary for enrollment in school. Vaccinations are important for many reasons, she said.

“It’s important number one just to help them stay healthy,” she said. “It’s obviously something that’s been vetted out by doctors that it’s what’s best for the children to get these shots just so we can make sure that they’re healthy, because if they’re not healthy they’re not going to be able to learn right.”

Proof of vaccination also helps teachers and administrators stay informed of students’ health.

Exemptions are allowed in some cases.

“We have three types,” Castillo said. “We have a medical exemption, a religious exemption and a conscientious exemption. The medical has to come from the doctor. The conscientious one comes from the state and of course if it’s religious it has to come from the state.”