JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s time to pack backpacks and go over checklists for the return to school. And for some Four States students, that means catching up on their shots.

“School is started or is getting ready to start. A lot of our kids are needing to get up to date on their vaccines,” said Dr. Beth Garrett, Freeman Pediatrician.

And that isn’t just for kindergarteners.

“There are requirements for our junior high kids and for our high school kids to have vaccines for school.”

For five-year-olds, that starts with the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine, or DTaP.

“Polio, MMR, and chickenpox. And a lot of clinics they’re going to combine those vaccines into two shots to try to minimize stress on those parents of those kids. In junior high, a lot of those always are going to be needing to get caught up on the TDaP and then menveo.”

Which is for meningitis… which is also on the list as a booster in high school. Dr. Beth Garrett points out getting the right shots at the right time is crucial.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing decreased immunization rates, and so we’re seeing some of these diseases that maybe families haven’t seen in a while, come back. And they’re scary. We don’t want to have these show up in our clinics and in our communities. So the way that we protect against them is by keeping high immunization rates.”

She adds that keeping current with well-child checks will help parents remember to get the shots at the right time.

“Because your pediatrician or your practitioner is going to be looking at that immunization record and seeing what you’re due for every year.”