Most school systems require a complete vaccination record before a child can enroll for classes at any level. Beyond fulfilling an enrollment requirement, though, vaccines help keep your kids safe from potentially deadly or disabling illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following a specific vaccine schedule, one based on research into the safest, most effective timing of vaccine delivery. According to the CDC, in the years before your children go to school, they should receive vaccines against:
- Hepatitis B: This vaccine against a liver-attacking virus is given in three doses—the first at birth (before your child leaves the hospital), the second within the first 2 months of life, and the third between ages 6 months and 18 months.
- Rotavirus: Given in either two or three doses, the rounds for this vaccine—which protects against a severe diarrhea- and dehydration-causing virus that kills more than 450,000 children worldwide each year—should be started before a child reaches 15 weeks of age and completed before the child is 8 months old.
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP): The CDC recommends your child get four doses of this vaccine—which protects against lockjaw, whooping cough and the respiratory disease diphtheria—between 2 months of age and 19 months of age. Depending on when the fourth dose is given, your child may not need another.
- Hib: This vaccine against a type of bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and epiglottitis is given in two rounds, with an additional booster shot or two. Your healthcare provider will tell you how many total Hib vaccines your child will need before reaching 15 months old.
- Pneumococcal disease: Rounds for the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine—which protects children against bacteria that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other severe illnesses—are given at 2, 4, 6 and 12–15 months of age.
- Poliovirus: Your children should get three doses of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine, which protects against the potentially paralyzing and deadly disease polio before age 18 months, as well as a dose between the ages of 4 and 6.
- Measles, mumps and rubella: Your child needs two doses of the vaccine that protects against these viral diseases, and the minimum age for the initial vaccination is 12 months.
Once School Starts
If your child missed the recommended window for any of his or her childhood vaccinations, you should be able to catch up and have a full immunization record by the time school starts. For older children, the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can lead to cancer, is recommended starting at age 12, and your child should have an annual influenza (flu) vaccine.
Have questions about vaccine safety and effectiveness? Talk to your physician. To find a primary care physician in our area, visit parkridgehealth.com/physicians.