Back-to-School Vaccines 101

What parents need to know about vaccines for their school-age children

(RxWiki News) It's time to head back to school. Do your children have all the required vaccines?

Vaccines are required for school-age children in most schools. Here's a guide to back-to-school vaccines for children of all ages.

Ages 4 to 6

Children between the ages of 4 and 6 are usually just starting school, but they have been getting vaccines for a while now. Here are the vaccines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for children of this age:

  • Chickenpox: second dose
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP): fifth dose
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR): second dose
  • Polio: fourth dose
  • Flu: by the end of October every year, if possible

Ages 7 to 10

By ages 7 through 10, your child likely has received most of the required back-to-school vaccines. However, the CDC recommends that children of this age continue to get their annual flu vaccine at least by the end of October.

Also, if your child missed any vaccines at an earlier age, now is likely the time to catch them up. Ask your doctor which vaccines your child needs to receive and when.

Ages 11 to 12

At ages 11 and 12, children are getting ready to enter adolescence. This change in their bodies and brains comes with some big changes in their health needs, including new vaccines. Here are the vaccines the CDC recommends for children at this age:

  • Flu: by the end of October every year, if possible
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): two doses six to 12 months apart
  • Meningococcal disease: first dose
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)

Ages 13 to 18

The teenage years are an important time in children's lives. These years are also an important time to round off your child's vaccine profile so they are fully protected.

Here are the vaccines the CDC recommends for teenagers:

  • Flu: by the end of October every year, if possible
  • Meningococcal disease: second dose at the 16-year well visit
  • Serogroup B meningococcal infection: may be given at age 16, but speak with your child's doctor about scheduling

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccines your children need to receive, reach out to your family doctor or community pharmacist.