With a new school year getting underway, the Ocean County Health Department is reminding residents about the importance of staying up-to-date with vaccinations that can protect against serious diseases.

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"In preschools, schools and colleges we know they're prone to outbreaks. When children aren't vaccinated they're at increased risk for disease and they can spread disease to others in their play groups, schools or communities," said OCHD spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen.

She assured that testing has proven immunizations are safe and provide protection from 14 serious diseases before a child turns 2-years-old.

The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, or pertussis, and Terjesen stressed the importance of getting vaccinated for meningitis and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus).

Teens and young adults can now be immunized with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, according to Terjesen.

Anyone at least six-months of age also should receive a yearly flu shot, which Terjesen pointed out is required for children attending a licensed day care or preschool.

"They have to receive their flu shot between September 1 and December 31," Terjesen said. The flu also puts children under age 5 at risk of getting pneumonia, she said.

By law, audits of schools are required to make sure immunization rates are correct, according to Terjesen.

Vaccines are just as important for adults and pregnant women. In addition to a flu shot, Terjesen recommends getting a pneumonia vaccination. She also said adults over age 60 should be vaccinated for shingles.

Additional information about immunizations, including charts for specific ages, can be found at www.ochd.org.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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