With the start of the new school year right around the corner, the state Department of Health is reminding parents that this is the time to get their kids vaccinated.

According to New Jersey state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan, different vaccinations are required depending on the age of the child.

She said for pre-school and childcare, kids might need to have vaccines that protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, pneumococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.

All children attending a childcare center who are six through 59 months of age have to have a flu shot.

Last year, more than 94% of students in pre-K through 6th grade met all immunization requirements.

But religious exemptions for required vaccinations are allowed in New Jersey, and that number has been slowly rising, from 2.4% in 2017-18 to 2.6% in 2018-19.

New Jersey also allows children to attend school without getting vaccines for various medical reasons.

Tan said it’s important to have a high vaccination coverage because “kids are going to be really close to each other in school settings. Vaccination is a really effective way to keep kids healthy.”

"Having that herd immunity — having that protection of people who are immune to vaccine preventable diseases — helps protect everybody, including people who are not able to get vaccinated," she said.

Dr. Tan added that vaccines "are tested to ensure that they’re effective as well as safe for kids to receive at the recommended ages.”

She said if parents have questions, “they should go to their healthcare provider to ask about what vaccines might be needed, whether their children are up to date.”

More information is at the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/vaccines

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