PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — School officials and doctors are sharing a warning with parents: As the first day of school quickly approaches, they say now is the time to make sure their child’s immunization records are up-to-date.

Certain immunizations are required by the State of Illinois to attend public school. Children in kindergarten, 6th, 9th and 12th grades are due for their booster shots.

“This is really a big push for us every summer. Their primary purpose is to keep students healthy and keep our communities healthy. And so that’s why they’re so important,” said Thomas Bruch, director of communications at Peoria Public Schools.

Sara Sparkman, communications manager at Tazewell County Health Department, said those who may have missed vaccines last year, need to get them too.

“We may have become falling behind on our vaccines. We want people to really be encouraging people to get caught back up so that we stay ahead of all these diseases that are out there. So, we want to make sure that people are getting the vaccines that they need as soon as possible,” she said. 

Dr. Randolph McCrea, pediatrician and adult medicine physician at OSF HealthCare, said it’s a good idea to schedule your appointments early to avoid getting caught up in the eleventh hour.

“There’s always a rush come August in the few weeks before school starts, where ‘I forgot’ or didn’t get it done yet,” he said.

McCrea said the importance of vaccines cannot be understated.

“There are still these diseases out in the world and they’re just as risky or more dangerous, and delaying vaccination can increase the children risk of acquiring those problems, and so staying on schedule and doing them in a timely fashion is very important,” he said.

For those with financial issues, the Illinois Department of Public Health offers the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. It provides free vaccines to eligible children ages 18 and younger.