Health officials nationwide are urging parents and guardians to make sure their summer plans include an appointment to get back-to-school immunizations for their children.
Many states have laws barring students who do not have all of their immunizations or a valid waiver. The restrictions are intended to save lives by preventing disease outbreaks in schools.
Because a growing number of schools are starting the new school year in August instead of after Labor Day, caregivers will need to make the appointment soon to get their child vaccinated in time.
July and August are the busiest months of the year for back-to-school immunizations, so health officials are encouraging parents to schedule the appointment or get a waiver as soon as possible.
Most states require a certificate of immunization for all students who attend public, private, or parochial (religious) schools before they enter certain grade-levels — usually Kindergarten and 7th grade — or if they move to a new school district.
For example, children under 7 years old are generally required to have completed the immunization schedules for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, and sometimes Varicella (chickenpox) before Kindergarten.
Many states also require 7th graders to get one dose of the Tdap vaccine and another dose of MCV4 (meningitis). Other optional vaccines for teenagers include vaccines against HPV, Meningitis B, Hepatitis A, and Varicella (chickenpox) if they are not immune.
All states currently allow vaccine waivers if there is a medical or religious reason for not getting immunizations, with another 20 states allowing vaccine waivers for philosophical reasons or personal beliefs.
If you are planning on seeking a waiver, schedule the appointments at the beginning of the summer. Some states require caregivers who are seeking a waiver to first meet with a healthcare professional. Caregivers may also need to sign a form acknowledging that they may be putting their child’s health at risk by refusing vaccinations.