(WHNT) — Getting children vaccinated against serious and deadly diseases should be a high priority for Alabama parents, wrote State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in his monthly message.

According to Alabama state law, all children are required to present a COI, or Certificate of Immunization, before going to a childcare center or school. The required vaccines protect against 16 serious and possibly life-threatening diseases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

Harris said summer is a great time to get ahead of the crowd seeking back-to-school shots.

“Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to the spread of preventable diseases,” Harris wrote in his June message. “When children are not vaccinated, they are at risk of disease and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and communities.”

ADPH lists the following recommendations for vaccinations in children:

  • Childcare-age children need vaccines for the following: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and pneumococcal disease.
  • Children going to school need booster doses for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.
  • Teenagers and preteens need tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, human papillomavirus, and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.

Additionally, Harris said all children older than six months should receive an annual flu vaccine.

“Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to the spread of preventable diseases,” Harris continued. “Vaccine protects the people who receive the vaccine, as well as children too young to be vaccinated, persons with medical conditions preventing vaccination, and those who do not respond to the vaccine.”

Harris concluded by saying while COVID-19 vaccinations are not currently required as part of the childhood vaccination schedule, federal health officials recommend them for those aged 5 years and up.

To find out which vaccinations are required for your child according to their age, click here. If you need an immunization record, call your healthcare provider or local health department.