An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to immunizations, this could not be more true. Immunizations are a safe and important step in protecting your child and our community from preventable illnesses that can be very serious.
A schedule of routine vaccinations from birth through 6 years of age covers children for 14 potentially life-threatening diseases. Missing these critical vaccines can put a child at life-long risk of contracting whooping cough, measles, polio, hepatitis, and other diseases.
Immunizations required to attend school
Due to a recent change to Pennsylvania law, children who do not have all of the required immunizations within the first five days of the school year will not be allowed to return to school. Parents previously had eight months to get their children vaccinated.
So now more than ever, it’s important to make sure your children’s immunizations are up-to-date. Here’s a checklist:
Pennsylvania state law requires* these immunizations for all grades:
- 4 doses of tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (often given as DTP, DTap, DT or Td) with one of the doses given on or after the child’s 4th birthday
- 4 doses of polio (the fourth dose is not needed if the third dose was given at age 4 years or older and at least 6 months after the last dose)
- 2 doses of measles, mumps, rubella (often given as MMR)
- 3 doses of hepatitis B
- 2 doses of varicella (chickenpox) or proof of immunity
Children in 7th grade or higher also will need:
- 1 dose of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap)
- 1 dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV)
Children in 12th grade also will need:
- 2nd dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV), unless one dose was given at 16 years of age or older
*Unless excused for medical reasons, religious beliefs or strong philosophical/moral or ethical convictions
Although not required under Pennsylvania law, it is recommended that children 6 months of age and older also get an annual flu shot. Influenza is responsible for hundreds of pediatric hospitalizations and more than 100 deaths each year. The first time your child is vaccinated against the flu, they will receive two vaccinations one month apart. This provides the greatest immunity.
If you have questions about your child’s immunizations, your health care provider can offer guidance.