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What Vaccinations does my Child Need to Enter School?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vaccines serve to prevent diseases, some of which can be fatal. In the United States, a number of vaccinations are recommended for children entering school. In fact, most states require proof of immunization before a child may begin school. Such requirements are intended not only to protect the health of those receiving them, but also to prevent disease in those unable to receive vaccinations due to medical issues.

Each state has its own set of requirements for vaccinating children before they begin school. The most commonly required vaccinations include the diphtheria; tetanus, pertussis (DTaP); hepatitis A; hepatitis B; haemophilus influenzae (Hib); polio; varicella; and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines. A small number of states require the pneumococcal as well. Some states also require meningococcal vaccines for individuals entering college.

The easiest way to determine which vaccinations are required for school children in your state is to contact your local school or school district. By doing so, you should be able to obtain up-to-date information concerning the requirements in your area. This is an important step, as vaccination requirements can change. Most states follow the recommendations of immunization authorities, such as the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in regulating vaccinations. States may also consider recommendations offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Though most states do require vaccinations for school children, many also allow for parents to refuse them. In many states, parents may avoid immunizing their children by filing medical exemptions with school officials. In other states, exemptions can be granted for religious and philosophical reasons as well.

In other countries, vaccinations may be handled differently. For example, some countries recommend and offer vaccinations for school children, but do not require them. Some countries offer the same immunizations as those available in the United States, while others omit some and add others to the list of offered vaccinations.

Some parents object to immunizing their children because they fear the vaccinations will cause harm. In some cases, parents have blamed vaccines for causing serious medical damage to their children. Most medical experts assert, however, that vaccines are safe, except under rare circumstances. They state that the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh any possible risks.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon998871 — On Sep 10, 2017

I do not believe all these vaccinations are necessary or helpful. Let's be honest: unless a child is around someone with hepatitis and they are going to get contaminated with their blood they cannot get hepatitis. It is blood borne pathogen. Sooo, I guess that would depend on the lifestyle of the parents and their decisions to make but honestly I do not feel a child should have to have this vaccine.

Wait until they are 18, know their own lifestyle and then allow them to make that decision for themselves. As with some of the other vaccinations. I believe this is a push by the drug companies for profit more than actual need/welfare of the child. Chicken pox is a mild disease that most children overcome without difficulty. What is the percentage of children suffering side effects from the vaccine? Are the side effects actually being reported and put out there? Same with the flu vaccine? We are not allowing the body to build its own immunities. Do your own research about side effects vs benefits then look up what the risks vs consequences of getting the disease. Many times the disease is not that severe and the vaccine actually a greater risk.

By anon349524 — On Sep 26, 2013

I don't like the fact that the government and doctors and teachers out and out lie, and tell you that if your child does not have his vaccinations they cannot attend school. Most of them will not tell you that you only have to sign a waiver saying you don't believe in vaccinations. I live in California and my children have not been vaccinated and they all attend school. I didn't have to give any reason except I don't believe in vaccinations. The school nurse gave me a waiver and I signed it and that was that.

It makes me very uneasy when the government tries to force you to do something. If there is an option then tell us the option. Don't lie to us. When all of these authority figures are lying and saying there is no way your child can attend school when they know there is, that makes me uneasy. Why are they lying?

By anon165867 — On Apr 06, 2011

There have been a number of measles cases here in Texas recently, especially in Tarrant County (Fort Worth area). It's suspected that the disease was introduced into the area through people who have traveled to Orlando, FL, which has also experienced several cases recently.

How measles came to Orlando is uncertain, but the guess is through airline travel to Europe or Africa. Another possibility is that Haitian refugees might have brought the disease when they immigrated into the state of Florida following the earthquake.

If a person contracts measles as an adult, there can be far more serious complications than would occur if the person had caught the disease as a child. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death as a measles complication, and pneumonia is often worse in adults. Thus, it's still important to stay current on the measles vaccine, especially if the vaccine wasn't done in childhood.

By ValleyFiah — On Aug 04, 2010

@ Babalaas- On the flip side of the coin, some vaccinations are necessary. Measles is still prevalent outside of the United States, and travel to these regions can lead to infection. When the infected returns home, it can lead to an outbreak. Measles is most dangerous in those under five and those over 30. This is why the MMR vaccine is encouraged at a young age.

Those living close to the Mexican Border, and even the Canadian Border, are at a particularly higher risk, even if they do not travel. Even if you are against some vaccines, you should strongly consider the MMR vaccine. If you are nervous about the link between autism and vaccination, separate the vaccines, or wait an extra six months to vaccinate after two years old. If you think your child will ever travel, go to college, or live near a border think about certain vaccinations.

By Babalaas — On Aug 04, 2010

You are right about not needing every vaccination. I was surprised to see some of the vaccines on my child's vaccination sheet. I don't understand why a chicken pox vaccination is pushed so hard. Chicken pox is no more serious than the flu.

I believe that the body should build its own antibodies to some diseases. I will give my child some vaccinations, but not all. In my opinion, the chicken pox vaccine is no more than a way for the drug companies to make billions off the millions of families that will take whatever a doctor gives them without questioning their motives.

By Amphibious54 — On Aug 04, 2010

The truth is every state offers some legal right to exemption from vaccination. A state cannot force you to vaccinate a child for that child to enter a public institution. Some childhood vaccinations are not even necessary for all areas of the country.

If you are wavering on whether or not to vaccinate your child, do your own research, just be sure your research is objective and comes from reliable sources. There are reliable sources that support both sides of the argument, but there is also a lot of misinformation on both sides. In reality, the battle over vaccination is partially about money, and partially about public safety. You just need to determine if you are putting your child at greater risk by not vaccinating, or if the risk is unchanged. It will all depend on your lifestyle.

Remember, there is nothing that says you cannot receive vaccinations later on in life. You may not need all 60+ shots in the first two years, or you may.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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