What you need to know about back-to-school vaccines
It’s back-to-school time, and although you might already have paper and pencils, put immunizations on your shopping list to make sure your kids are protected as they head to class.
Vaccinations protect your children from certain deadly diseases, prevent outbreaks and promote healthy classrooms.
Children are due for a series of immunizations between the ages of 4 and 6, and again at between the ages of 11 and 12, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some vaccines due at these ages are also required by the Washington State Department of Health prior to the first day of kindergarten and sixth grade.
Vaccinations are important for both the health of your kids and the health of our community. Unvaccinated kids are more likely to catch and spread serious illnesses such as whooping cough (also called pertussis) and measles, which can both be prevented by vaccines.
What vaccinations does my child need for school?
By the time your child enters kindergarten, required vaccinations will include:
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis)
- A yearly flu shot*
The average 11- to 12-year-old should receive these immunizations before school:
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV, done in three doses)
- Meningitis (MCV4)
- A yearly flu shot*
- Any missing shots from the list above or not received as babies, such as Hepatitis A vaccine
*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.
Below are the required back-to-school immunizations in Washington state.
Click the image below for a larger version.
Where can I find my child’s vaccine records?
Contact your child’s doctor, nurse or clinic. If you can't get a complete immunization history from your provider, you can most likely get records from the Washington State Immunization Information System; contact the Office of Immunizations and Child Profile at 360-236-3595 or 1-866-397-0337. Always keep shot records in case your child moves, gets a job, or goes elsewhere for school. You’ll need it when you least expect it.
Where do I get my child vaccinated?
MultiCare Immunization Clinic at South Hill Mall
3500 S. Meridian, Puyallup
(in the MultiCare Health Kiosk next to Old Country Buffet)
While you do your back-to-school shopping, conveniently get your child — and yourself! — vaccinated at our immunization clinic inside the South Hill Mall in Puyallup, located near Old Country Buffet. The clinic offers free and low-cost immunizations to children and adults. No appointments are necessary.
The kiosk is open 5 days a week to provide convenient access to immunization services:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10:30am–5pm
Every second Saturday, 11:30am–5pm
Every other Saturday, 11:30am–5pm
MultiCare Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinic
The MultiCare Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinic provides free immunizations to all children from birth through 18 years of age.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department maintains a schedule of where the Mobile Immunization Clinic will be each month.
For more information about the Mobile Immunization Clinic, call 253-403-1767 or 800-552-1419.
This story was originally published in August 2015 and updated in August 2018.
About The Author
Roxanne Cooke is our senior content editor and manages Vitals, Kite Strings and Bring Happy Back, plus special projects such as 24 Hours at Tacoma General Hospital and The Healthy Futures Project. She tells stories in words, photos and video. You can reach her at [email protected]More stories by this author