Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

School Starts Soon—Is Your Child Fully Vaccinated?

Group of children getting into school busMake sure your children are up-to-date on vaccines before sending them back to school.

School-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. Making sure that children receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children's long-term health—as well as the health of friends, classmates, and others in your community.

CDC has online resources and tools to help parents and doctors make sure all kids are up to date on recommended vaccines and protected from serious diseases. Get your children to the doctor if you discover they need vaccines to protect them against serious diseases.

What All Parents Need To Know

To keep children in schools healthy, your state may require children going to school to be vaccinated against certain diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough). If you're unsure of your state's school requirements, now is the time to check with your child's doctor, your child's school, or your health department. That way, your child can get any needed vaccines before the back-to-school rush.

Group of children running

Use CDC's online resources and tools to check the recommended vaccines for your children.

Disease Outbreaks Still Happen

It's true that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, cases and outbreaks still happen. The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 668 cases from 27 states reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. From January 1 to June 26, 2015, there have been 178 cases of measles and 5 outbreaks reported in the United States.

From January 1–July 10, 2015, almost 9,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported to CDC by 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Outbreaks of whooping cough at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. Those who are vaccinated against whooping cough but still get the disease are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine.

Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths.

Getting every recommended dose of each vaccine provides children with the best protection possible.

Vaccines for Your Young Children (Newborns through 6 years old)

During the early years of life, your children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children increase the risk of disease not only for their own children, but also for other children and adults throughout the entire community. For example, vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients, are also at higher risk of disease.

Flu vaccines are recommended for kids in preschool and elementary school to help keep them healthy. In fact, all children 6 months and older should get flu vaccines. Getting all of your children vaccinated—as well as other family members and caregivers—can help protect infants younger than 6 months old. Ask your family's doctor or nurse about getting flu shots or the nasal spray to protect against flu.

Parents can find out what vaccines their children need and when the doses should be given by reviewing CDC's recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule.

Vaccines for Your Preteens and Teens (7 years old through 18 years old)

Preteens and teens need vaccines, too! As kids get older, they are still at risk for certain diseases. Before heading back to school, three vaccines are recommended for 11-12 year olds—HPV, Tdap, and meningococcal conjugate vaccine—for continued protection.

HPV vaccine is important because it can prevent HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life. For other diseases, like whooping cough, the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood fades over time. That's why 11–12 year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap to help protect them from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine helps prevent two of the three most common causes of meningococcal disease, which can be very serious—even life-threatening.

It's important to know that flu can be serious, even for healthy, young people. Preteens and teens are no exception. So older kids should get at least one flu vaccine (the shot or nasal spray for healthy kids) every year.

To learn more about vaccines for your preteens and teens, talk to your child's healthcare provider or visit the preteen and teen vaccine pages . CDC provides a recommended immunization schedule for people ages 7 through 18 years for parents and doctors to follow to protect preteens and teens from vaccine-preventable diseases. If your preteens or teens haven't already gotten their vaccines, you should get them caught up as soon as possible.

It's Not Too Late

Getting every recommended dose of each vaccine provides children with the best protection possible. If a child misses a shot, your child's healthcare professional can use the catch-up immunization schedule help get her back on schedule.

Keep in mind that there are many opportunities to catch-up on vaccines for your preteen or teen. Preteens and teens typically see their doctors or other health care professionals for physicals before participation in sports, camping events, travel, and applying to college. Beat the back to school rush and use these opportunities to get your preteen or teen vaccinated today!

  • Page last reviewed: July 27, 2015
  • Page last updated: July 27, 2015
  • Content source: