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Are immunizations required by law?
Q: Is it a law that children be immunized? Should we be concerned that our 7-month-old hasn’t been? He still needs help sitting up, he doesn’t crawl, and he doesn’t sleep all night. Also, he eats very little, and mum gives him whole milk.
Gail
A: Gail, it’s important to encourage your grandson’s parents to take him to the doctor for regularly scheduled check-ups. For infants, these medical visits are generally scheduled at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months of age. The doctor will check your grandson’s development and health and discuss ways to keep him healthy. They can discuss your grandson’s physical development, sleeping and feeding.

Your grandson’s developmental skills may be within the normal range for a 7-month-old, but it would be good to have the doctor do a complete check of his development. In addition, it would be good for the doctor to assess what your grandson is eating and advise his parents that they should still be giving him breast milk or formula and not whole cow’s milk until after 12 months of age.

The doctor will also explain how immunizations can help protect your grandson from serious diseases such as flu, pneumonia, whooping cough, polio, meningitis, hepatitis, chicken pox and measles. Health authorities recommend that babies start getting their immunizations at birth and continue with boosters at subsequent well-baby visits during the first 18 months, then again before kindergarten.

State laws require immunizations for children entering kindergarten, and many states require immunizations earlier for children entering licensed childcare. However, the laws usually allow exceptions if parents certify that they have personal or religious objections to immunizations. But these exceptions are rare. In general, less than 1 percent of families choose them. If your grandson’s parents have any concerns about immunizations, it would be helpful for them to discuss them with the doctor as soon as possible.