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Navigating Vaccines & Heading Back to School

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Jill Amsberry,DO

The start of the school year can be a busy time for children and parents alike. As students are preparing to head back to class and cold and flu season starts to ramp up, it’s important to make sure you don’t put your health on the back burner. Here are some things you should keep in mind in the coming weeks.

What vaccines does my child need to have before school starts?

It’s important to be sure your child is up to date on their childhood vaccines like those that protect against meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus, polio, measles and chickenpox. If you are not sure if your child is caught up on these vaccines, contact your primary care provider and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If your child is due for other childhood vaccinations, they can still get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as their other scheduled vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pre-K through kindergarten age should receive their fifth dose of pertussis and DTaP, their fourth dose of IPV, the second dose of MMR, the second dose of varicella and a yearly flu shot.

It’s recommended by the CDC that children ages 11-12 should receive an HPV vaccine, one dose of MenACWY, pertussis, Tdap and a yearly flu shot.

Children ages 13 to 18 years old are recommended to get their second HPV vaccine, MenB and a yearly flu shot.

When should my child get a flu shot?

Flu shots should be available soon for children 6 months and older. September and October are typically good times to get vaccinated for the flu. Ideally, you want to be vaccinated by the end of October but getting vaccinated later in the season can still provide protection.

Does my child need a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC is recommending that everyone ages 6 months and older receive their COVID-19 vaccine. You can schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. If you have not gotten your child vaccinated for COVID, this is a great time to do so. Starting the vaccine series now will allow your child to have protection for the fall and winter seasons. Over 10 million children in the U.S. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than eight million children have completed the series. Getting the COVID vaccine now will help protect your child against the serious disease should they become infected. Six hundred and nine million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

If you have questions relating to your child’s vaccine history and recommendations, contact their primary care provider.