Back-to-School Health Checkup
Here's a primer on exactly what your child needs to have a safe and healthy school year.
Whether your child is entering school for
the first time or about to graduate, back-to-school time is a good opportunity
for parents to check up on their children's health and make sure they're
protected against common childhood diseases and illnesses.
First on the list should be immunizations.
Vaccination requirements can vary by state or school district. To find out
exactly what's required at your child's school, contact the local school
Below are the recommended guidelines that
have been approved by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,
the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family
By Age 2
Vaccination series for the following should
be completed by age 2 in all children:
DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and
MMR (measles, mumps, and
Varicella (protects against the chicken pox
Annual influenza vaccinations are
recommended for all infants aged 6 to 24 months since this age group is at
substantially higher risk for complications from the flu that may require
A series of hepatitis A vaccines may also
be recommended starting at age 2 for children in some high-risk groups or
areas. Check with your doctor or local public health department for more
information. Annual flu vaccines are necessary because immunity to the flu
virus does not persist and the strains of the flu virus change from year to
Boosters are recommended between ages 4 and
6 for the following vaccines:
Children younger than 9 years who have not
previously received the flu vaccine need two doses of the vaccine, given more
than one month apart. If possible, the second dose should be given before
December. Annual vaccination is recommended after that point.
Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for children who are at
increased risk for complications from the flu, including those with asthma or
other lung disease, sickle cell anemia, HIV, diabetes, and heart or kidney
A visit to the pediatrician is recommended
at age 11 to 12 to review all vaccinations and make sure all necessary vaccines
have been given. A series of hepatitis B, MMR, or varicella vaccines may be
given if they were missed or incomplete at earlier ages.
In addition, a combination booster for
tetanus and diphtheria (Td) should be given if at least five years have passed
since the last Td vaccine.
Although flu vaccines are not specifically
recommended for this age group, any child at increased risk for
complications from the flu, including those with asthma, sickle cell disease,
HIV, diabetes, and heart disease, should receive an annual flu vaccine.
For more information on current vaccination
schedules, guidelines, shortages, and answers to frequently asked questions,
visit the CDC's National Immunization Program web site or call the National
Immunization Hotline at (800) 232-2522 (English) or (800) 232-0233