School Starts Soon—Is Your Child Fully Vaccinated?
Make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines before sending them back to school.
School-age children – from preschoolers to college students – need vaccines. Getting your child 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 you make sure your kids are up to date on recommended vaccines and protected from serious diseases. Use the childhood vaccine quiz to see what vaccines your child needs, at any age. If you find out your child needs any vaccines to protect them against any of the 16 serious diseases, schedule a visit with your doctor to get caught up.
What All Parents Need to Know
To keep children in schools healthy, your state may require children to get vaccines against certain diseases before going to school. 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.
Ensure your child is up to date with all vaccines before the first day of school.
Disease Outbreaks Still Happen
Thanks to vaccines, many vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare, but cases and outbreaks can still happen. The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 667 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 May 20, 2017, 100 people from 10 states were reported to have measles. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
From January 1– June 13, 2016, almost 6,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC by 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Outbreaks of whooping cough at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. However, those who are vaccinated against whooping cough but still get the disease are more likely to have a mild case compared to those who never received the vaccine.
Keeping your children up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your community and schools from outbreaks that cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths. Getting every recommended dose of every vaccine provides children 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 and sometimes 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 receive the maximum protection of vaccines or people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients or some people with cancer, are also at higher risk of disease.
Flu vaccines are recommended for children 6 months and older. Getting the flu vaccine for yourself and your children can help protect infants younger than 6 months old who are too young to be vaccinated. Ask your health care provider about getting a yearly flu vaccine to protect against flu.
Parents can find out what vaccines their children need and when by reviewing CDC’s recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. You can also complete this quiz to get a customized list of vaccines your child needs.
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. Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal.
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 every year.
Kids under 8 who have never had a flu vaccine, and those who have previously gotten only one dose, should get 2 doses of flu vaccine this season. Kids should get the first dose as soon as the flu vaccine is available and should get their second dose at least 28 days after the first dose.
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 dose of every recommended vaccine provides children the best protection possible. If your child misses a shot, your child’s healthcare professional can use the catch-up immunization schedule to get them back on track.
Because preteens and teens typically see their doctors or other health care professionals for physicals before participation in sports, camping events, travel, and college there are many opportunities to get your teen caught up on vaccines. Beat the back to school rush and use these opportunities to get your preteen or teen vaccinated today!
- CDC’s Vaccine Website for Parents
- Childhood Vaccine Quiz
- Watch videos: Childhood Vaccines are a Key Piece of Puzzle and Preteen and Teen Vaccine: Video and Audio Resources
- Facts for Parents: Diseases and the Vaccines that Prevent Them
- State Mandates on Immunization and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, Immunization Action Coalition
- Immunization Requirements for Child Care and School
- Links to State, City and Island Immunization or Public Health Department Websites
- Vaccination Records for Kids
- Page last reviewed: September 1, 2017
- Page last updated: September 1, 2017
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, Office of Health Communication Service
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs