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Your Guide to Back-to-School Vaccinations

Jul 28 2022
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For parents trying to get their children vaccinated before school starts, it can be a little confusing. Vaccine requirements can vary based on where you live in. Additionally, factors such as your child’s personal health condition can also play a role. 

Below is a general guide to which vaccines your children need before starting school. However, your pediatrician may also have some suggestions based on your child’s unique needs.

What vaccines should kids have before elementary school?

No matter which state you live in, your child should have these vaccinations before starting school:

  • Varicella vaccine. Two doses of this vaccine (starting at around 12 to 15 months old) will protect them against chickenpox.
  • DTaP vaccine. Five doses of this vaccine (starting at the age of 2 months) will protect your child from diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
  • IPV vaccine. Four doses of this vaccine (starting at 2 months old) will guard the body from polio.
  • MMR vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine (starting at around 12 to 15 months old) will protect your child from measles, mumps and rubella.

Depending on your state, your child may also be required to be vaccinated against diseases like hepatitis A. In addition, everyone who is older than 6 months old should get the flu vaccine on a yearly basis. Try to make sure everyone in your family has this vaccine by the end of October. The flu can be particularly dangerous for children who are younger than 5 years old.

What vaccines should kids have before middle and high school?

Just because your child leaves elementary school doesn’t mean their vaccinations are done.

Here are a few that older children should have:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Your child should receive a dose of this vaccine to protect against this serious disease when they’re 11 or 12 years old. A second shot during their teen years can provide continued protection.
  • HPV vaccine. This vaccine can protect your child from the numerous types of cancer-causing HPV viruses.
  • DTaP vaccine. Another dose of this vaccine will help ensure lasting protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine. If your child didn’t receive this series of vaccines when they were younger, they should get it during adolescence.
  • Other “catch-up” vaccines. These vaccines are also available if your child didn’t get the varicella, MMR or polio vaccine when they were younger.

COVID-19 vaccine

As of the summer of 2022, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone ages 6 months and older. The dose and recommendations for future booster shots depends on the age of your child. Again, be sure to reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions about your kid and the COVID-19 vaccine as well as any of the other vaccines listed above.

With so many vaccines out there, it can be hard to keep track of which ones your child has already received. So, if at any time you need to check your child’s vaccine records, reach out to your pediatrician, state health department or their school.

Learn about the primary care services we offer at Mercy Health.


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