An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to immunizations, this could not be more true. Immunizations are a safe and important step in protecting your child and the community from preventable illnesses that can be very serious.
Staying on a schedule of routine vaccinations from birth through 6 years of age covers children for 14 potentially life-threatening diseases. Missing these critical vaccines can put a child at life-long risk of contracting whooping cough, measles, polio, hepatitis, and other diseases.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some parents are delaying well visits and immunizations that help keep children healthy. Thanks to precautions like wearing masks, socially distanced waiting area arrangements, and strict cleaning practices, visiting healthcare providers continues to be safe.
Immunizations Required To Attend School
Children must have all required immunizations within the first five days of the school year. Unless excused for medical reasons, religious beliefs, or strong philosophical/moral or ethical convictions, Pennsylvania state law requires the immunizations outlined below. If you aren't sure whether your child's immunizations are up to date, or have specific questions about a vaccine, check with your pediatrician or family medicine provider.
For All Grades
- 4 doses of tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (often given as DTP, DTap, DT or Td) with one of the doses given on or after the child’s 4th birthday
- 4 doses of polio (the fourth dose is not needed if the third dose was given at age 4 years or older and at least 6 months after the last dose)
- 2 doses of measles, mumps, rubella (often given as MMR)
- 3 doses of hepatitis B
- 2 doses of varicella (chickenpox) or proof of immunity
Children in 7th Grade or Higher Also Need
- 1 dose of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap)
- 1 dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV)
Children in 12th Grade Also Need
- 2nd dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV), unless one dose was given at 16 years of age or older
Although not required under Pennsylvania law, it is recommended that children 6 months of age and older also get an annual flu shot. Influenza is responsible for hundreds of pediatric hospitalizations and more than 100 deaths each year. The first time your child is vaccinated against the flu, they will receive two vaccinations one month apart. This provides the greatest immunity.
In addition, the CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older to help protect against COVID-19.