Dewan: Get ready for school and get vaccinated
A therapy dog accompanies a child getting a vaccine. Photo courtesy of Santa Clara County Office of Education.

    It is back-to-school time for most children in Santa Clara County. Families are getting school supply lists and backpacks and preparing for all that is new and exciting when a school year begins.

    It is important families also prepare by ensuring their children have up-to-date immunizations and vaccines. Vaccines are another important part of growing up. They are safe, effective and protect children from preventable diseases.

    The California Department of Public Health requires children to be vaccinated against nine diseases in order to attend public or private schools in California. In order to enroll in school, a child must be fully vaccinated per California law, unless they have a medical exemption.

    While the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for school enrollment and attendance, it is recommended. Children ages six months and older are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Your child’s pediatrician may also recommend a flu shot.

    Most children receive immunizations according to a schedule endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. These vaccines induce protection against polio, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox and are generally given during the first two years after birth.

    Students entering seventh grade need a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster. Pediatricians also recommend the HPV and meningococcal vaccines for children this age, though these are not required for school attendance.

    Students in grades TK/K-12 need:

    • Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP, DTP, Tdap, or Td) — Five doses. Four doses are acceptable if one was given on or after the fourth birthday. Three doses are acceptable if one was given on or after the seventh birthday.

    For 7th-12th graders, at least one dose of pertussis-containing vaccine is required on or after the seventh birthday.

    • Polio (OPV or IPV) — Four doses. Three doses are acceptable if one was given on or after the fourth birthday.
    • Hepatitis B — Three doses. Not required for seventh grade entry.

    Students starting seventh grade need:

    • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) —One dose. Whooping cough booster usually given at 11 years and up.
    • Varicella (Chickenpox) — Two doses, usually given at ages 12 months and four to six years.

    Immunizations are required in most child care settings as well. The chart below summarizes the requirements by age.

    To find out more about childhood vaccines, access the CDC’s parent guide. Guides are available in multiple languages. See this link for some tips about required and recommended vaccines, where to find appointments and more.

    Having vaccines up to date over the summer will prevent delays in school enrollment and support regular and consistent attendance once enrolled.

    San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

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