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Back to School Vaccines. By Our Student Pharmacist, Shannon Peck.

vaccine clipart

With mid-August rolling in, I know we are all anticipating the beginning of the coming school year. While going back to school brings about a lot of exciting changes, kiddos being at school together also helps build the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, which then spread illnesses throughout communities! This is why there are mandatory vaccines that are required for children to attend school.

Today we’ll review what the required vaccines are to ensure that your child is ready for the beginning of this school year.

Vaccinations help to prevent disease by imitating an infection and stimulating an immune response in the body. It teaches the body what a specific bacteria or virus will look like so that the body will remember how to fight against the bacteria/virus if it encounters it again.

The illnesses that the vaccines below protect against can be very contagious, for the most part,  and often very severe when contracted, so it is important that we do all we can to prevent them.

(Vaccine – disease that it prevents)

MMRmeasles, mumps, rubella

This is a childhood vaccination; it is a two-step series that requires one vaccine to be given at 12-15 months, and the second vaccination to be given at 4-6 years old. If your child is out of this age range, they can complete a catch-up schedule of the two-dose series at least four weeks apart.

Varicella – chicken pox

This is a childhood vaccination. It is a two-step series that recommends one vaccine to be given at 12-15 months, and the second vaccination to be given at 4-6 years old. However, the second dose may be given as early as three months after the first dose. For catch up vaccination, a two-dose series is still recommended. If the child is 7-12 years old, the recommended interval between doses is three months. If they 13 years or older, the typical interval between doses is 4-8 weeks.

Hep B – Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B vaccination begins in childhood. The first vaccination is given at birth, then the second step is given at age 1-2 months, and the last dose should be given at age 6-18 months. If a child aged 11-15 has never received a Hep B vaccination, they may use an alternative two-dose series with four months between doses. If older than 18 years, there are a few different catch-up options, and your doctor can help to determine the most appropriate plan of action.

IPV – Poliomyelitis

This is a childhood vaccination, and is a four-step series. The first immunization should be given at two months, the second one at four months, the third between 6 and 18 months, and then the last at 4-6 years old. The last dose should be given at least 6 months after the first dose. For catch-up dosing, refer to your doctor to determine the best plan of action. Polio vaccination is readily recommended after age 18, and is a little more nuanced for those younger than 18 that were not vaccinated in early childhood.

DTaP – tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough)

DTaP is given to children younger than the age of 7. It is given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and at 4-6 years for a total of a 5-dose series. If dose four was given at age 4 or older and at least 6 months after dose 3, and the fifth dose may not be necessary. Refer to Tdap section to learn more about a catch-up schedule.

Tdap – tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis

The booster of the DTaP vaccine is called Tdap and should be given at age 11-12. After that, it is recommended once every 10 years. If a child aged 7-18 was not fully vaccinated with DTaP, one dose of Tdap can be given as part of the catch-up series. If a child received Tdap before the ages of 10, they should also receive the routine vaccination at age 11-12. If a child received DTaP after age 10, that may be counted as the routine adolescent Tdap vaccination.

MenACWY – meningococcal disease

This vaccine begins at age 11-12 to start a two-dose series. The second dose should be given at age 16. If a child needs catch-up vaccination and they are aged 13-15, give one dose now and then a booster dose at 16-18 years. The minimum interval between these two doses is 8 weeks. If needing catch-up vaccination and aged 16-18 years, one dose is sufficient.

vaccine schedule birth through 6 yo

vaccine schedule 7 through 18 yo

Influenza (flu) vaccination is also recommended as one dose each year starting at 6 months of age. COVID vaccination may be started at 6 months of age, and the number of doses will be dependent on the child’s age as well as the type of vaccination used.

If you have concern for your child receiving a particular vaccination, speak with their doctor to determine if the exception criteria for school requirements is fitting for your child (for example, a child may be exempt from the chicken pox vaccine if they have contracted chicken pox before, because their body has already previously built an immune response to the virus before and will likely remember how to fight of the virus again if it has to). A doctor’s note outlining reasoning for exemption may be required by school administration.


“2023 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth through 6 Years Old.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023.

“2023 Recommended Immunizations for Children 7-18 Years Old.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/teen/parent-version-schedule-7-18yrs.pdf. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023.

“Birth-18 Years Immunization Schedule – Healthcare Providers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Apr. 2023, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html.

“Section 3313.671: Proof of Required Immunizations – Exceptions.” Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, Legislative Service Commission, 15 Oct. 2015, codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-3313.671.

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