The Beacon

Why students need immunizations

Andy Thao, Reporter

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It’s around this time of year that fear strikes some students here at Harding when their parents receive letters or phone calls about their kid’s immunization shots.

          “In the state of Minnesota, but also the United States, immunization shots are required to attend school,” said Thomas Stinson, the school nurse at Harding.

This includes colleges as well.  “Universities don’t even allow you to start school without getting immunization shots,” said Mr. Stinson.

This means students could miss days of education or even miss out on the entire semester of school. So why do students need these immunizations? “They are the number one defense against diseases,” said Mr. Stinson.

According to the CDC, many of the required immunization shots prevent dangerous diseases like hepatitis A, which causes liver damage, and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), which causes fevers, sore throat, diarrhea, pneumonia and inflammation of the spinal cord and the brain. Measles and mumps are also known to kill their victims. Rubella doesn’t kill the victim, but if the victim is a woman who is pregnant she could have a miscarriage or a child with serious birth defects. However, these diseases can be stopped at an early age.

         “Some immunizations are given to you immediately, after a couple months, or after a year and sometimes longer,” said Mr. Stinson.

For some students at Harding, they had got their first immunizations when they were born. An example of a shot that may come right after you are born is hepatitis B. A couple months after you are born you might get immunized for MMR, polio (a disease that can give you headaches, fevers, nausea and, if more serious, can paralyze certain body parts) and tetanus, a disease that can cause muscle spasms starting from your mouth then down the rest of your body. Immunizations for hepatitis A, meningococcal (which refers to any disease that may affect your brain and spinal cord) and HPV (a type of sexually transmitted infection that can cause warts and cancer on the genital areas) usually occur later in childhood.These diseases are dangerous but at an all time low due to vaccinations.           

Although Mr. Stinson has really strong views on immunizations, he’s not the only one who has an opinion in them.

         “Diseases spread quickly, so every student needs to get their shots,” said Pong Vang, an administrator at Harding.

Mr. Vang helps send voicemails in Hmong alerting Hmong families about important events or in this case, immunizations. “The nurse tries and alerts students in as many ways as possible,” said Mr. Vang.

The nurse at Harding mails alerts to students about immunizations if there are enough students. However, if they have too few students they need to alert, then comes the one-on-one talks between the nurse and the student. If the student still hasn’t gotten their immunizations, then comes Mr. Vang and the other translators. They call families alerting that their kid needs to update their immunization shots immediately. Even though Mr. Vang is a school administrator, his kids still get their immunization shots updated when they need to get their shots taken.

         “My kids do get their shots,” he said. “My wife is a doctor so I don’t really have to worry about getting their flu shots.”

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Why students need immunizations