Before sending your child off to their first day of kindergarten, it's likely that you have several health care requirements to check off your must-do list. Along with a physical from your family medicine or pediatric healthcare provider, your child also needs immunizations.
If this is your first, or only, child to start school, understanding the vaccination policies is absolutely essential. What do you need to know about starting school and immunizations? Take a look at some of the common questions that parents have.
Who Makes School Immunization Laws?
This is typically done on the state level. That means different states may have different requirements. States create vaccination laws for both public and private schools, along with daycares and colleges.
Keep in mind, these are not arbitrary or random rules that your child's school enforces. States create these laws based on medical and public health research and recommendations. The goal is to stop the spread of disease and provide a safe, healthy environment for every student, teacher and staff member in the school.
Are There Immunization Exemptions?
The answer to this question is tricky. Many states offer medical or religious exemptions. Some do offer philosophical exemptions, but others expressly exclude these types of claims.
In the event of an outbreak, the state may choose to not recognize any sort of non-medical exemption.
Where Can a Child Get Their Vaccinations?
There are several different health care settings where a child can get their required vaccinations. A family medicine or pediatric provider is a top choice for many families. Choosing to have your child vaccinated by your family/pediatric doctor helps to set them on a regular immunization schedule. The medical provider knows your child, understands their health care needs and has their immunization records from birth on.
What Vaccinations Does a Child Need for School?
Again, each state governs the specific guidelines for their residents. If your child's medical provider has been following the CDC's immunization schedule, it's likely that your young student is up to date on the vaccines they need to start school.
These vaccines include hepatitis A and B, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), poliovirus, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and varicella. Other common immunizations that the CDC recommends include the meningococcal vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate, rotavirus, influenza (annually) and the human papillomavirus (for older children/teens only).
If your child is starting school soon, check in with their family physician. The doctor's office can provide you with an immunization record and vaccinate your child as needed.
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