Protect children and communities with back-to-school immunizations

Nurse preparing vaccine inection

Currently making headlines all over the United States, measles is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable illness that has made a frightening comeback. Fortunately, Missouri is not home to one of the current outbreaks as just one case has been confirmed so far this year in the state. This is occurring not long after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the disease to be eliminated in the year 2000 thanks to a highly effective nationwide vaccination program.

As this new school year begins, parents and guardians need to ensure children are up-to-date on their immunizations to prevent diseases from being contracted and spread. Some children cannot be immunized for medical reasons, which is determined by the child’s physician. Unimmunized children are at greater risk of exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases, some of which can be life-threatening. To protect those who cannot be vaccinated as well as the entire community, it is vital that those can be vaccinated are vaccinated.

Missouri law requires that children in kindergarten through grade 12 receive immunizations to protect against certain vaccine-preventable diseases. This helps protect everyone: children, teachers, staff and the community as a whole.

“Proper immunization can prevent serious health issues that could affect your child and others,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). “In school, many kids spend the day in close proximity to one another. Vaccines help their bodies recognize and fight disease-causing germs that they may come into contact with.”

Children attending kindergarten through grade 7 are required to be up-to-date on the following immunizations:

  • DTaP – Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis;
  • Polio;
  • Hepatitis B;
  • MMR – Measles, mumps and rubella; and
  • Varicella – Chickenpox

Children entering grade 8 are required to have two additional immunizations to protect their health:

  • Tdap – Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (booster); and
  • Meningococcal ACWY

A booster dose of Meningococcal ACWY is also required for children entering grade 12.

 Although not required for school attendance, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice recommends that children received other age-appropriate vaccines such as annual influenza, human papillomavirus (protects against several cancers) and hepatitis A. 

Vaccines help protect children against serious illnesses while continuously undergoing testing to ensure safety. The Missouri Vaccines for Children program can provide vaccines to children who are uninsured, underinsured, American Indian or participate in Mo Healthnet (Medicaid).