August is National Immunization Awareness Month, so it is an ideal time to think about what vaccinations your child may need.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local vaccination requirements for daycare and school entry are important for maintaining high vaccination-coverage rates, and in turn, lowering the rates of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). Therefore, state laws establish vaccination requirements for school children and daycare facilities.
Note: Keep your child’s vaccination record in a safe place. You may need to show it when your child returns back to daycare or school.
Vaccines are safe
- They are only given to children after many scientists, doctors and experts test them
- The protection they provide is much greater than the possible side effects
- Side effects are almost always mild. They may include redness or swelling at the site of the shot
- Major side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, are very rare
In California, kindergartners and 7th graders are required by law to have received certain vaccinations (except for those with signed qualified exemptions). The requirements are listed on the California Department of Public Health website:
Daycare through kindergarten:
|Age When Entering||Immunizations (shots) Required|
|2–3 Months||1 each of Polio, DTaP, Hib, Hep B|
|4–5 Months||2 each of Polio, DTaP, Hib, Hep B|
|6–14 Months||3 each of DTaP
2 each of Polio, Hib, Hep B
|15–17 Months||3 each of Polio, DTaP
2 Hep B
1 MMR on or after the 1st birthday
1 Hib on or after the 1st birthday
|18 months–5 years||3 Polio
3 Hep B
1 MMR on or after the 1st birthday
1 Hib on or after the 1st birthday**
**Required only for children less than 4 years, 6 months
Hep B = Hepatitis B
Varicella = Chickenpox
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis(Tdap) —1 dose
(Whooping cough booster usually given at ages 11 and up because the initial vaccine fades in strength over time)
- Measles— containing vaccine (MMR) — 2 doses
(Usually given at 12 months of age and 4-6 years of age)
There are also vaccine recommendations for preteens and teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Public Health say preteens should get these vaccines:
- 1 dose of the Tdap vaccine. This protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
- The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine. This protects against certain types of cancer caused by HPV.
- The quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. This protects against bacterial meningitis. Teens need a booster shot at age 16.
- Preteens and teens: The flu vaccine every year, as soon as the vaccine is offered.
Whooping cough (pertussis) can cause severe coughing that leads to vomiting or broken ribs. Preteens may end up in the hospital and miss weeks of school. Most children are given this vaccine early in life, but the vaccine fades over time.
HPV vaccine is safe and can protect boys and girls from HPV infections that can cause certain cancers. Boys and girls should receive the HPV vaccine series (3 shots).
Bacterial meningitis is an illness that can lead to death in as little as 48 hours. It can also cause:
- brain damage
- loss of your arm and leg
- kidney damage
If you are unsure if your child is up to date, check with his or her pediatrician.
Immunization is the single most important way parents can protect their children from serious diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can have a costly impact, resulting in doctors’ visits, hospitalizations, and even premature death in certain cases.
Children aren’t the only ones who stay home when sick. Oftentimes parents need to miss work as a result. In addition, the CDC notes that immunizing individual children can also help to protect the health of our community, especially for those who cannot be immunized (such as, infants who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don’t respond to a particular vaccine. These are some of the reasons why it’s extremely important to make sure that your child is up-to-date with his or her vaccinations.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccines have contributed to a significant reduction in many childhood infectious diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Some infectious diseases, such as polio and smallpox, have been eliminated in the United States because of vaccines.
Health Net members can find all preventive screening guidelines on the member portal at www.healthnet.com under the Wellness Center section > Tips for Healthy Living > Additional Resources> Preventive Care Guidelines > Preventive Guidelines.
You can also check out the Centers for Disease Control’s immunization schedule for children.