Back to School Vaccination Checklist

Childhood vaccinations prevent deadly illnesses from spreading

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Pencils? Check. Books? Check. After you've gone through your checklist of school supplies, make sure that you've checked off all the vaccinations your child needs for back to school.

You've heard it a million times before: Your child is required to be vaccinated against a handful of diseases before entering kindergarten.

Recent outbreaks of whooping cough – which had all but disappeared from the U.S. with the vaccine – are a reminder of how your child still needs protection against these illnesses.

"Keep your children's vaccinations current."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated on their website, "Making sure that children of all ages receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things parents can do to ensure their children's long-term health ― as well as the health of friends, classmates, and others in the community."

Public health officials consider this year's whooping cough outbreak to be a wake-up call to keep Americans vaccinated. An epidemic was declared this year in Washington state, where the numbers of reported cases have risen dramatically from last year.

Although diseases like whooping cough, measles and diptheria may seem like diseases of the past, they still exist around the world. Occasionally, they make an unwelcome appearance in America.

If your child is not immunized against these preventable diseases and is exposed, they could become seriously sick – some diseases can even be fatal. And everyone knows how fast a sickness can travel through a classroom full of children.

Let's face it: No one likes to get shots or watch their young children get shots. But having all Americans vaccinated creates a powerful immunity that keeps deadly illnesses from affecting our lives.

The CDC publishes “schedules” for vaccinations and booster shots, available at cdc.gov. Your doctor should also be able to tell you what your child needs and when.

By the time your child is ready for kindergarten, he or she should be immunized against 14 diseases. Before you send them off on their first day, they'll need these shots:

  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Diptheria/ Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Chicken Pox

These shots will “refresh” the immunity your child should have already received in previous vaccines.

If you have a sixth grader, it's time again to take them to the doctor for shots. They need:

  • Chicken Pox booster
  • Meningitis
  • Tetanus booster

Yearly flu vaccines are also recommended, but not usually required.

If you realize that your child has missed a shot, it's not too late to make it up. Ask your doctor, or visit the CDC's handy “Catch-Up Immunization Scheduler”, an online tool to get your family back on track.

What's required varies from school to school, so check for local information.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 10, 2012
Last Updated:
August 13, 2012