Immunizations Required for the New School Year
These requirements are set by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
Parents preparing to send children back to school may want to look at the required immunizations, available in the PDF document in the Photos section of this article.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DOHSS) sets the immunization requirements for all school-aged children, from day care programs to seniors in high school.
Information on the diseases below, their symptoms and possible consequences are taken from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which publishes Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for the most common vaccines. VISs for the immunizations described below may be found in the Photos section of this article.
The immunization requirements may be found below or on the sheet from the state Department of Health, found in the Photos section.
Minimum immunization requirements include vaccinations against several communicable diseases, including:
1. Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP or DTaP). Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough) are three childhood diseases caused by bacteria which can be prevented by vaccinations. Diphtheria and pertussis are passed from person to person; tetanus can come from an open cut or wound. All three can lead to death.
The DTaP vaccine is the children's version of the immunization and is appropriate for students under age 7. Students age 7 and older should receive the adult vaccine, Tdap (see No. 2 below.)
Any child entering preschool needs at least four doses. Students entering kindergarten need a booster dose on or after the child's fourth birthday.
Any five doses of DTaP are acceptable for students between the ages of 4 and 6. Students ages 7 to 9 years should have three doses of Tdap or any combination of DTP, DTaP and DT that equals three doses.
2. Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). Tdap is the adult version of the vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Tdap was licenced in 2005 and is the first vaccine to protect against all three diseases. Prior to 2005 the Td vaccine protected only against tetanus and diphtheria.
Students entering the sixth grade need one dose of Tdap. The Tdap vaccine is not required until five years after the student received their last DTap, DTP or Td vaccine.
3. Polio. Polio is a disease caused by a virus. It usually is transferred from one infected person to another and usually enters through the mouth. Without a vaccination, polio can cause paralysis, irritation of the lining of the brain (meningitis) or death by paralyzing the breathing muscles.
The state requires any child age 6 or under to have at least three doses, with one dose given on or after the fourth birthday. Students age 7 or older need any three doses.
4. Measles. Measles is a virus which can spread through the air. It causes flu-like and cold-like symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose and fever. It can also cause eye irritation and rash. Without immunization, measles can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
Children over 15 months needs at least one dose of the measles vaccine before entering child care or preschool. Children entering kindergarten need two doses. The state requires at least one month pass between the first and second measles vaccine. The state will accept laboratory evidence of immunity in lieu of the vaccine.
For more information, see Nos. 5 and 6 below.
5. Rubella and mumps. Rubella, also known as the German measles, is a virus which causes rash and a mild fever. It can also cause arthritis, usually in women. The mumps virus causes fever, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite and swollen glands, and can lead to deafness, meningitis, among other complications. Both can spread through the air and through close contact with an infected person.
Rubella and mumps vaccines, along with measles, are often given as a combination vaccine called MMR. Most children have no reaction to the vaccine, but mild, moderate or serious reactions can occur including high fever, rash, unusual behavior, difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness and rapid heartbeat.
Students over 15 months of age entering preschool or childcare, and students entering kindergarten, must be vaccinated against rubella and mumps. The district will accept laboratory evidence of immunity.
6. Varicella (chickenpox). Varicella is a disease known for the characteristic blisters it causes on the skin. The disease causes rash, itches, fever and fatigue, and can lead to severe skin infections and scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
Varicella spreads through the air or through contact with fluid from blisters on the skin.
The varicella vaccine can be given in combination with the MMR vaccine describe above. The combination vaccine is known as MMRV. Most children who get the vaccine have no side effects, but mild, medium and serious reactions do occur and can include fever, mild rash, seizure and temporary low platlet count.
All children over 19 months enrolled in child care or preschool, and all children entering kindergarten or first grade, need at least one vaccine. The district will accept laboratory evidence of immunity or a statement from a parent or doctor that the student has already had varicella in lieu of the vaccine.
7. Haemophilus influenzae B (Hib). Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a disease caused by bacteria which usually affects children under 5 years old. It can be spread from contact with infected adults or children.
In mild cases, those infected with Hib can show no signs or symptoms. In serious cases, Hib can lead to: meningitis; pneumonia; infections of the blood, joints, bones or covering of the heart; brain damage; deafness; and death.
Students between the ages of 2 and 11 months enrolled in child care programs must receive two doses of the vaccine. Students aged 12 to 59 months need one dose.
8. Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a serious infection which affects the liver. It is caused by a virus and can be spread through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person, such as through cuts or wounds.
Untreated, hepatitis B can lead to short-term illnesses including loss of appetite, fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea and vomiting and jaundice. Long-term infections include cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or death.
All students from kindergarteners to high school seniors must have three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine. If a child between the ages of 11 and 15 has not received three doses of the vaccine, that child may instead receive an adolescent version of the vaccine which requires only two doses.
9. Pneumococcal. Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacteria. It is spread through contact with infected persons, and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough and chest pains.
Untreated, it can lead to pneumonia, serious blood infection known as bacteremia and meningitis, all of which can cause death. According to the CDC, pneumococcal disease "is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness and death in the United States." Less severe consequences are ear infections and deafness.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) is required for sudents enrolled in childcare or preschool. If the child is between the ages of 2 and 11 months, they must have two doses of the vaccine. Children between 12 and 59 months need at least one dose.
10. Meningococcal. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria which can cause meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord lining. Even with treatment, meningococcal disease can lead to deafness, brain damage, seizures, strokes, problems with the nervous system, loss of limbs and death.
The meningococcal vaccine for school-age students is called the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, or MCV4. It prevents four types of meningococcal disease, including two of the three most common types of the disease.
Students ages 11 or entering grade 6 must have one dose of the meningococcal vaccine.
11. Influenza. More commonly known as the flu, influenza is a highly contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It can be caused by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions from infected persons.
Symptoms often last only a few days and are similar to other diseases. They include sore throat, fever or chills, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, muscle ache and fatigue. Young children are at risk for more serious symptoms and consequences, such as high fever and pneumonia.
There are two kinds of flu vaccines, a nasal spray called live, attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) and a shot called the inactivated influenza vaccine.
Children between 6 and 59 months enrolled in childcare or preschool must be given one dose of the vaccine between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 of each year. Students who enter the school district between Dec. 31 and March 31 must receive one dose of the vaccine.