Pencils: check. Backpack: check. Lunch box: check. Vaccines? It’s a good time to check. Back-to-school is an ideal opportunity to ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date.
“A wellness visit or sports physical with your child’s provider before school starts is a great time to confirm he or she is up to date on all required immunizations and vaccinations,” says Dr. Amanda Kossak, a family medicine specialist at ThedaCare Physicians-Appleton.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the State of Wisconsin Student Immunization law requires the following immunizations:
- Pre-K (ages 2-4 years) — 4 Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus; 3 Polio; 3 Hepatitis B; 1 Measles Mumps, Rubella; 1 Varicella (chicken pox)
- Kindergarten through Grade 5 — 4 Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus; 4 Polio; 3 Hepatitis B; 2 Measles Mumps, Rubella; 2 Varicella (chicken pox)
- Grades 6-12 — 4 Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus; 1 Tdap (adolescent tetanus); 4 Polio; 3 Hepatitis B; 2 Measles Mumps, Rubella; 2 Varicella (chicken pox)
You can confirm your child’s immunization record through your child’s provider or via the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Wisconsin Immunization Record, a database that tracks vaccine records for Wisconsin children and adults. The website provides the information in English, Spanish and Hmong.
In addition to required immunizations, which can be waived for health, religious or personal conviction reasons, several other vaccines are recommended. Dr. Kossak says parents should consider COVID-19 and influenza vaccines for their children.
“COVID-19 continues to be pandemic, so we highly recommend parents follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that children over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against COVID-19,” she says. “Everyone over the age of 5 should also receive booster shots as recommended. In addition, anyone over the age of 6 months should receive an annual flu vaccine.”
For pre-teens, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended after age 9, while college-bound students should consider receiving the meningococcal vaccination, which protects against meningitis.
“Parents should talk with their child’s primary provider to determine which vaccines are appropriate,” Dr. Kossak says. “Immunizations and vaccinations serve a vital purpose in keeping each of us and society as a whole safe from life-threatening or life-altering illnesses. If you have questions or concerns about a particular vaccine or immunization, talk with your provider. Beyond that, make sure your student is up to date on all health checks. We hope these steps can help all students have a safe, healthy and great school year.”