CHICAGO (CBS) — Summer is coming to a close and the first day for Chicago Public Schools is Tuesday, Sept. 6. But as your kids head back to class, are they up-to-date on their vaccinations yet?

CBS2’s Marissa Bailey talks to University of Illinois at Chicago’s Dr. Jessica Shepherd, who shares some back-to-school health and vaccination information.

She says vaccines, though controversial, are important, because, “It’s really a public health issue. So, as well as individual health and making sure that our kids are safe, because everyone wants to make sure that their kids are safe, we really want to protect the community. So when you have vaccines or immunizations, it really is protecting everybody.”

Vaccines, Shepherd explains, are killed or modified amount of DNA that is injected in you. Your body builds a response to that through the immune system, so therefore, not only will you have immunity, but if you are exposed to that disease in the future, you minimize your risk of having that disease.

The importance of vaccinations stretches into adulthood, Shepherd says. Many are required, but some change often, like the flu vaccine, so it’s necessary for people of all ages to get the vaccine each year, Shepherd says.

This has been a contentious topic, because some parents worry about getting their kids vaccinated, noting possible side effects that could last throughout a child’s adulthood. However, to allay those concerns, Shepherd says, “This is a very controversial topic. But we have had studies over and over again that have really verified that there really is no link between vaccines and certain diseases such as the autism spectrum disorder, but we do know that immunity is so important. When children are vaccinated, it really reduces their risk of having that disease over 90 percent.”

Illinois State Law requires certain vaccinations for every student, however there have been changes to the 2016-2017 school year. Currently, adolescents are required to get the meningococcal vaccine, which is against meningitis, one before the 7th grade and two before the 12th grade, unless that first dose or that first vaccine that they received, was after the age of 16 years old, Shepherd says.

To find out other required vaccines for the State of Illinois, visit the National Vaccine Information Center for a list, by school grade.

Marissa Bailey