Johns Hopkins Pediatrics Says, ‘Get Kids Required Vaccines Before Going Back to School’
Children and teens will go back to school in a few weeks and many schools will require students to be up to date on their routine immunizations. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (JHCC) experts recommend vaccinating your child as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush before classes start.
“Preparing for the new school year is a busy time, and many parents might wait to schedule immunization appointments until close to the start of classes,” says Kate Connor, M.D., M.S.P.H., pediatrician and medical director of the Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education at the Children’s Center. “But getting kids the necessary vaccines should be a top priority to ensure they have the protection they need and can return to school on time.”
Each state decides which vaccines are required to attend daycare or school. Children may need vaccinations for illnesses such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, and teens may require DPT (diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis) and meningitis vaccines. Children and teens can get vaccines at their pediatrician’s office, or in most states, at a local pharmacy if the child is at least eight years old. Some locations require appointments in advance.
“Parents may have delayed routine care for their healthy children during the pandemic,” says Connor. “So, it’s important they confirm with their child’s pediatrician that immunizations are up-to-date and that other needed preventive care is done before the start of school.”
This year, for children age 12 and older, JHCC experts also recommend the COVID-19 vaccine, even if it isn’t required for your child’s school. “We’ve seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 for more than a year now, and getting your kids the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able is an essential part of preventing serious illness,” says Nakiya Showell, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.S., pediatrician and medical director of JHCC’s Harriet Lane Clinic.
To find out which vaccines are necessary, JHCC experts suggest talking with your pediatrician, checking with administrators at your child’s school or daycare facility, or visiting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccination website.
Connor and Showell are available for interviews.
National Immunization Awareness Month is in August.