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Help Ensure a Healthy School Year With Back-to-School Vaccinations for Your Kids

Family Medicine
August 13, 2019
Child getting a vaccine, Help Ensure a Healthy School Year with Back-to-School Vaccinations for Your Kids blog post.

Believe it or not, the school year is nearly here again. As a responsible parent or caregiver, it’s up to you to make sure your children are properly vaccinated for school attendance.

Vaccinations are essential for everyone, but school-aged children are especially susceptible to the diseases that vaccines help prevent. This also includes young adults heading off to college.

To prepare your kids for this school year, make sure you’re aware of the vaccines they should have. The following guide and checklist will help.

What Diseases Do Vaccines Protect Against?

Approved vaccines in the United States protect us from numerous potentially harmful diseases. Many of these diseases can cause serious illnesses, long-term health problems, and even death.

Fortunately, vaccines can keep you and your children from getting sick. Remember that vaccines are safe and regularly recommended for most people.

Currently, approved vaccines are available to prevent the following dangerous diseases:
• Polio
• Tetanus
• Flu (Influenza)
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis A
• Rubella
• Hib
• Measles
• Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
• Pneumococcal Disease
• Rotavirus
• Mumps
• Chickenpox (Varicella)
• Diphtheria
• Tdap
• Meningococcal
• MPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Tracking Vaccines

Keeping track of when to get vaccines for your children and which ones they’ve already had can be difficult. The following will help you get oriented.

First, if you have your children vaccinated according to the schedules recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, it’s a bit easier to keep track of everything. But at the same time, even if you start vaccinating your children late, you can always catch up.

It’s never too late to start getting your children vaccinated.

No matter when you plan to start vaccinating your children, begin by making a point to record all their vaccines within your own personal medical records. The CDC provides this handy chart, which can make things much easier.

Alternatively, you can simply keep track in your own way. Just make sure that you write down each immunization, the date of the vaccination, and where it was given. You should also store your vaccine records in a safe and memorable place.

What if my child has had some vaccines, but I can’t remember which ones?

If you know your child has had some vaccines, but you aren’t sure which ones, you can often obtain a vaccination tracking card from your state’s health department or through your state’s immunization registry. Learn more here.

Back-to-School Vaccination Checklist

As your child heads back to school this year, use this vaccination checklist to see which vaccines they’ll need. Vaccines are generally administered on an age-based schedule.

Birth
• Hepatitis B (HepB) (1st dose)

1 to 2 months
• Hepatitis B (HepB) (2nd dose)
• DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Pertussis)
• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Polio (IPV)
• Pneumococcal (PCV)
• Rotavirus (RV)

4 months
• DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Pertussis)
• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Polio (IPV)
• Pneumococcal (PCV)
• Rotavirus (RV)
• Hepatitis B (HepB)

6 months
• DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Pertussis)
• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Polio (IPV)
• Pneumococcal (PCV)
• Rotavirus (RV)
• Influenza (Flu)

7 to 11 months
• Influenza (Flu)

12 to 23 months
• Chickenpox (Varicella)
• DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Pertussis)
• Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
• Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
• Polio (IPV) (between 6 through 18 months)
• Pneumococcal (PCV)
• Hepatitis A (HepA)
• Hepatitis B (HepB)
• Influenza (Flu)

2 to 3 years
• Influenza (Flu)

4 to 6 years
• DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Pertussis)
• Polio (IPV)
• Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
• Chickenpox (Varicella)
• Influenza (Flu)

7 to 10 years
• Influenza (Flu)

11 to 12 years
• Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
• HPV vaccine
• Tdap
• Influenza (Flu)

13 to 18 years
• Influenza (Flu)

19 to 26 years
• HPV vaccine
• Td or Tdap
• Influenza (Flu)
• Meningitis (required in some states for students entering colleges and universities)

27 to 60 years
• Tdap (once, if never received as an adolescent; for pregnant women: once with each pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks)
• Td (booster every 10 years)
• Zoster vaccine (healthy adults aged 50 and older)
• Influenza (Flu)

Catching Up With Vaccines

Your child should get a regular checkup with their provider every single year. At this appointment, be sure to ask if they require any vaccines or boosters. If your child missed one or several vaccines, you generally won't have to start over. Just explain this to your provider and catch up at the next appointment.

Get the Flu Shot Every Year

Many vaccines are only needed once or several times in a lifetime. However, the flu vaccine is different. To avoid getting the flu each flu season, you should get the flu vaccine every year. This is because strains of the flu change from year to year.

The flu vaccine, along with all other vaccines recommended by the CDC, are safe and highly effective at preventing disease in you and your children.