When I was a child, it wasn’t unusual for large numbers of students to miss several days of school because of childhood illness such as measles, mumps and chickenpox. Fortunately, children in school today will probably never know what any of those diseases are -- and that has everything to do with immunization programs now in place to keep our children healthy and protect them from these once common illnesses.

If you have a child entering school this fall, it isn’t too soon to make sure your children are up-to-date on their vaccinations. According to the State Health Department, children entering childcare need to have the following:

• By their first birthday, they need to have a Hepatitis A vaccine, with the second dose 6 to 18 months later.

• By 19 months of age, three doses of hepatitis B vaccine.

• One dose of chickenpox vaccine on or after the first birthday, or a statement from the parent or doctor confirming the child has had chickenpox.

•One dose of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) given on or after the first birthday.

•DTaP at 2, 4, 6 and 12 to 18 months of age.

• Polio vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 to 18 months of age.

• Three to four doses of Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib) at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age.

Children entering pre-school must be up to date on all of these vaccines except for Hib. Children entering kindergarten through the 12th grade must have:

• Two doses of MMR vaccine.

•Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine.

•Two or three doses of hepatitis B vaccine (children age 11 through 15 can receive a two-dose series.)

• Five doses of DTaP/DTP 9, or four doses if the 4th dose was given on or after the 4th birthday), except for 11th and 12th graders who need only three doses.

• Four doses of polio vaccine, or three doses if the 3rd dose was given on or after the 4th birthday) except for 11th and 12th graders who need only three doses.

There are also new requirements for college students to have the meningococcal vaccine.

To find out more about these new requirements, to find out if your child is up-to-date or his or her vaccinations or to schedule these, you can contact your physician, or call your local county health department. For Rogers County, the number is 341-3166. In Mayes County, call 825-4224.

The important thing to remember is, these vaccinations not only keep your children from getting very sick—some of the diseases these vaccinations protect against can result in serious conditions, including blindness. Some can even be fatal. That’s why it is so important to make sure your children are up-to-date on all of these vaccines.

(Sen. Taylor (D-Claremore), is president pro tem emeritus of the Oklahoma State Senate.)