Health Officials Suggest Students Get Booster Shots Now - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Health Officials Suggest Students Get Booster Shots Now

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Graduates get lots of gifts, but here's one you probably haven't considered is a vaccine or booster shot.

The Benton Franklin Health District says now is an important time to get your older kids caught up on their shots.

The recommended immunization schedules have changed in the past few years and the health district wants to make sure your child is up to date on their shots.

They also encourage families to take advantage of our state's vaccine program that cuts costs for kids.

And health officials say now is a prime time to get a clean bill of health.

School's out and it's time for... a booster shot?

Believe it or not, the Benton Franklin Health District says now is a great time to make sure your child is up to date with their vaccinations.

"Immunization schedules have changed. In the past, teenagers weren't required to have books for pertussis and meningitis, but current recommendations are they receive those," said Dr. Amy Person, Benton Franklin Health District.

Current recommendations say kids should get booster shots for pertussis, also know as whooping cough, at age 11 and meningitis at age 16.

Older teens who never got the shots are urged to get them now.

The Washington State Department of Health says immunization rates are rising.

In fact, 85% of kindergartners had all their vaccines this year.

Parents are still allowed to get an exemption from school vaccine requirements, but the law now requires a doctor's signature for an exemption.

"Parents are making an informed choice when they choose not to have immunizations and because of the process I think we've seen a decrease in the amount of parents that are signing it just because it's convenient," said Jeanne Bakker, Kennewick School District nurse.

Before next school year or before adulthood, health officials want to remind you, now's the time.

"Summer time is the perfect time before they head off to college or out on their own to make sure they come in and get those important booster shots," Dr. Person said.

Bakker says one of her biggest pushes for her graduating students at Southridge High School is to get their meningitis shot.

Especially since they can take advantage of state's childhood vaccine program that gives kids under age 19 vaccines free of charge, but you will have to pay an administration fee.