If you are following the latest immunization schedule and your kids are up-to-date on all of their vaccines, then they will likely be ready to start daycare, kindergarten, high-school, or college.
There aren’t usually any extra vaccines that they will need to start school.
Of course, if you have skipped or delayed any vaccines, then they might have to catch up on some immunizations before starting school.
Another situation where you might need to do some catching up is if you move, and instead of following the CDC schedule, you were just getting the minimum number of vaccines that were required to attend school where you used to live. For example, your kids could have been all set to start kindergarten in Arkansas, but if you suddenly moved to Texas, they might need a second MMR, a booster dose of Varivax, and two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, as none of those are required in Arkansas.
Immunization Requirements to Start Daycare and Preschool
Since many new parents have to go back to work when their baby is only about two to six weeks old, they won’t have time to get their first set of vaccines at two months.
That won’t keep them out of daycare, but delaying too much longer, usually more than a month, probably will.
To start daycare or preschool, infants and toddlers need to get most of the vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule. This includes DTaP, hepatitis B, Hib, Prevnar, and IPV (polio), and then once they are 12 months old, booster doses of the primary series of vaccines and the MMR, Varivax (chickenpox), and hepatitis A vaccines.
The only vaccine that is missing from many state mandates is the rotavirus vaccine. And that simply has to do with the strict timing requirements of when you need to start (before 15 weeks of age) and finish this vaccine (by 8 months).
Some states do require rotavirus though, and simply state that kids must follow “age appropriate dosing.” That way, if they are too old, they just don’t need to get it.
Immunization Requirements to Start Kindergarten
In addition to most of the vaccines they needed to start daycare or preschool, to start kindergarten, kids need their 4 to 6 year old boosters:
- the fifth dose of DTaP to protect them against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
- the fourth dose of IPV to protect them against polio
- the second dose of MMR to protect them against measles, mumps, and rubella
- the second dose of Varivax to protect them against chicken pox
If using combination vaccines, these four immunizations can be combined into just two shots – Proquad (MMR + Varivax) and either Kinrix or Quadracel (DTaP + IPV), which your preschooler will appreciate to help reduce the pain from getting these shots.
If your kids were missing any vaccines, they will also need to get caught up on those before starting school.
Immunization Requirements to Start Middle School
Preteens and teens get a few vaccines when they start middle school when they are around 11 to 12 years old, including:
- a dose of Tdap to protect them against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
- a dose of Menactra or Menveo to protect them against meningoccocal disease
Although not required by most schools, the HPV vaccine is also usually given around this time.
Immunization Requirements to Start College
And then, before going off to college, at around age 16 years, kids will usually need:
- a booster dose of Menactra or Menveo to protect them against meningoccocal disease
They can also get the MenB vaccine, although it isn’t yet required for all students. This vaccine (Bexsero or Trumenba) has a “permissive” recommendation, in that parents are told they can get it if they want their kids to avoid meningococcal B disease, but it is not required yet.
What about a third dose of MMR?
While an extra dose of the MMR vaccine is now being given in some situations, it is mainly if your child is at high risk because of a current mumps outbreak. A mumps booster shot is not currently recommended just because your child is going off to college.
What to Know About Immunization Requirements for Incoming Students
If you have been following the latest immunization schedule and your kids are up-to-date on all of their vaccines, then they will likely be ready to start daycare, kindergarten, high-school, and college without needing any extra vaccines.
More on Immunization Requirements for Incoming Students
- CDC – School Starts Soon—Is Your Child Fully Vaccinated?
- CDC – Vaccine Contraindications and Precautions
- CDC – School Vaccination Requirements
- State mandates on immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases
- CDC – State Vaccination Requirements
- AAP – Meningococcal Disease: Information for Teens and College Students
- HPV Mandates for Children in Secondary Schools
- ACIP Passes “Permissive” Recommendation for MenB Vaccine for Young Adults
- Vaccines for Teenagers
- Immunization Recommendations for College Students
- Why Are Vaccines Mandated?
- Survey – Parents support daycare policies to get kids up-to-date on vaccines
- Study – Middle School Vaccination Requirements and Adolescent Vaccination Coverage
- Study – Systematic review of the effect of immunization mandates on uptake of routine childhood immunizations.
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