MONDAY, Aug. 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- As the new school year begins, make sure your child is up to date on all vaccinations.
"Schools are a great environment for spreading bacteria and viruses because students are in crowded classrooms, sharing things and in close proximity to one another," said Zachary Klase. He's an assistant professor of biological sciences at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
"A major factor contributing to many viral outbreaks is being in an environment where you are close to others such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a residence hall," he added in a university news release.
Vaccinations protect against diseases like meningitis, tetanus, measles diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B.
All 50 states require public school children to be vaccinated unless they have a waiver, and colleges and universities have vaccination rules, especially for those who live in dorms.
Vaccines are typically made using an inactivated germ or a small bit of active bacteria or virus, to allow the body to develop an immune reaction if the real thing comes along.
They're available at pharmacies and health clinics in addition to doctors' offices, and certain health centers provide vaccines for free to the poor and those without insurance.
For more about vaccinations, try the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.