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Back to School Vaccines: What Your Child Needs and When

August 5, 2015


As summer comes to a close and your family gears up for another school year, you’re probably busy scrambling to make sure your children have everything they need for another year of academic success. In addition to the school supply checklists and summer reading logs, it’s important to make sure your child is up-to-date on all the necessary vaccines. 

Scheduling a back-to-school doctor’s appointment for your kids can help make sure your family starts out the new school year on a healthy track. Even though many preventable diseases are no longer common thanks to vaccines, disease outbreaks can still happen. Maintaining your child’s vaccination schedule is one of the most important things you can do for their health—and the health of their friends and classmates. 

For more information on immunizations, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website to see recommended vaccine schedules for each age. While the requirements for school vaccines vary by state, here’s a basic rundown

Children Under 6 Years Old

There are 14 preventable diseases children need protection from during the first six years:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hib
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Flu
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus

Talk to your doctor to work out an immunization schedule and keep careful records so you know what vaccines your child receives and when. You can check out the CDC’s recommended schedule for children under six years old here

Children Between 7 and 18 Years Old

Even though your children will likely receive the bulk of their vaccinations at an earlier age, vaccines are important for older children, too. The following are new or updated vaccines recommended for children between seven and 18 years old:  

  • HPV
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster 
  • Meningococcal conjugate 

In addition to these vaccines, the CDC recommends older children still receive a flu shot, though it is not typically required by schools. Here’s the full recommended schedule from the CDC

How Can I Reduce My Child’s Vaccine Anxiety? 

Even though vaccines are important for your child’s continued health, getting a shot at the doctor’s office can often be scary and upsetting. Use these three tips to help reduce your child’s vaccine anxiety: 

Have a positive attitude

Your child takes their emotional cues from you, so be sure to smile and demonstrate that getting a shot is nothing to be worried about. 

Don’t try any tricks 

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to vaccines. Attempting to “fool” your child into thinking they don’t need a shot will only promote distrust and further anxiety for future visits. 

Talk about it at home 

Whether reading books about doctor’s visits or role-playing doctor games at home, talking about what to expect can help your child feel more comfortable. 

For more tips on raising happy and healthy children, download our free guide: “From Crib to College: Caring for Your Little Ones.”