It’s Time for Back to School… and Your Kids’ Next Vaccines
Jul 31, 2019
Keep your kids healthy all school year with our list of recommended vaccinations and tips for preparing kids for school – from preschool through college!
As a parent, you worry about your kids’ health all year long, no matter how old they are. But that desire to bolster their immune systems and keep them healthy increases the minute we hear those ever-important three words: Back To School.
Yes, it’s that time already! As we start thinking about getting our kids ready to head back to school, Vaccinate Your Family has created an easy reference guide sorted by school age that will give you the keys to protect your children from vaccine-preventable diseases, helping to prepare them for a happy and healthy school year.
Daycare/Preschool (Birth through 3 years old)
Ensure your children are up-to-date on vaccinations to protect them from the following dangerous diseases that can easily spread from child to child:
- Hepatitis B (HepB)
- Rotavirus (RV)
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTaP)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Flu (needed annually)
- Pneumococcal (PCV13)
- Polio (IPV)
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Hepatitis A (HepA)
Other Things That Can Help Prepare Your Kids for Daycare/Preschool
- Read books about going to preschool and kindergarten so your youngsters know what to expect, and get them to love reading
- Visit the schools and take a tour so you can play there together.
- Buy school supplies like lunchboxes and backpacks.
- Practice self-help skills like unzipping their own coats, putting on their backpacks and fastening their shoes.
- Kids heading to kindergarten should also start practicing the alphabet, and writing numbers and their names.
Elementary (Kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade)
Get your kids their recommended booster doses and any other catch-up vaccinations for diseases including:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTaP) (booster dose needed between ages 4 to 6)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) (booster dose needed between ages 4 to 6)
- Polio (IPV) (booster dose needed between ages 4 to 6)
- Chickenpox (Varicella) (booster dose needed between ages 4 to 6)
- Flu (needed annually)
And the older elementary school kids (ages 11-12) will need vaccines to protect against the following diseases:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)
- Pneumococcal Disease (PCV13)
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Tdap)
- Flu (needed annually)
Other Ways To Help Prepare Your Children for Elementary School
- Start setting routines for meals and bedtime.
- Practice making nutritious breakfasts and lunches together.
- Set house rules and consequences if those rules are broken.
- Visit your local library and get into the habit of scheduling reading time.
- Write your kids’ names on clothes, lunchboxes and backpacks.
Middle School (5th or 6th Grade to 8th Grade)
If you haven’t already gotten your kids all the recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, you’ll definitely want to do that now, as the vaccine is most effective if given at ages 11-12. Also ensure your children received their Tdap and MenACWY vaccines at ages 11-12. If not, please ask for it now. In addition, your children will need their annual flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your community.
Other Ways to Help Prepare Your Children for Middle School
- Attend all school orientation sessions and help practice opening a lock to ease anxiety of using a locker for the first time.
- Support your kids in learning how to deal with higher volumes of homework, and how to study for their first experiences with midterm and final exams.
- Buy a calendar or activity planner, and start teaching calendaring and time management skills.
- Talk about how to ask better questions, and practice how to email teachers.
High School (9th to 12th Grade)
In this age range, your kids will need vaccines to protect against:
- Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY booster dose at age 16)
- Meningococcal Disease (MenB dose may also be given – in addition to MenACWY – between ages 16 and 18. Talk to your healthcare provider.)
- Flu (needed annually)
Other Ways to Help Prepare Your Children for High School
- Support your children’s increasing volume of homework and higher frequencies of tests and quizzes by doing practice tests and assignments at home.
- If you haven’t already gotten your high schooler into the habit of using a calendar, start that now; create a family calendar together so you can track their schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
- If they’ll have a new route to school, or may begin taking public transportation, practice those routes together.
- Attend any free school events like fairs and orientations.
- Older students who are preparing for college should practice writing an essay that would appeal to the admissions audience, and start practicing how to get everything done in addition to their regular homework.
Before your kids head off to college, you’ll want to ensure they are up-to-date on all their vaccines. Ask your doctor about getting your children vaccinated with Meningococcal B vaccine – as this strain of virus is not contained in the routinely recommended Meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) that was given to your child when they were younger, and is the most common strain found on college campuses.
Encourage your child to get his or her annual flu vaccine as soon as it is available on campus or schedule an appointment to get them vaccinated over Thanksgiving break.
Other Ways to Help Your Kids Get Ready for College
- Reading is still fundamental, and college-aged students should continue reading as much as possible.
- If your kid will be living in a dorm or out of your home, shop together for supplies they’ll need for their rooms — sheets, towels, a desk lamp, medical and other supplies can help your students set up a home away from home.
- Talk about campus safety, and ways your kids can stay alert and safe around alcohol, drugs, parties, or when traveling around or off campus late at night.
- Introduce your child to the health clinic on campus so that they will know where to go when they become ill and where to attain their flu vaccine come flu season.
We hope this helps you get your kids ready for school, no matter their age or where they’re going. Keeping them mentally and physically healthy should help ease your mind!
You can find more tips and articles for school preparedness online. As always, please consult with your healthcare provider to confirm which vaccines your child needs. You may also reference the recommended immunization schedules.
For questions about vaccines, please visit the Questions about Vaccines section on the Vaccinate Your Family website.
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom. Like all parents, my child’s health...
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