The summer weather is upon us and beach visits, surf lessons, and pool days are in full swing. However, as we look forward over the next few weeks, we’ll see school supplies on shelves at local stores and the beaches will soon clear out as students return to school for the fall semester. As you prepare for the summer to fade away and the fall season to take over, you’re likely thinking about all that needs to be done before school can begin. Supplies need to be purchased, haircuts need to be scheduled, and new shoes need to be ordered. Additionally, parents need to ensure that their children’s school records and medical records are up to date and meeting the required standards.
The state of California recently passed a law that mandates all students between kindergarten and twelfth grade be vaccinated with certain immunizations. Students are required to show proof of immunization records, often provided by their pediatrician, and schools are required to confirm those records. In 2016, California disallowed use of the personal belief exemption for those wishing not to vaccinate, though they do still allow medical exemptions for those with medical concerns and a certified note from a doctor excusing them from certain vaccinations.
Why Are School Immunizations So Important?
The state of California passed the vaccination requirement law based on the belief that 90% of a population needs to be immunized in order to protect the community from an outbreak of disease. Since vaccines are thought to make individuals immune or less susceptible to contracting contagious diseases, it is recommended for many, and now required for California students, to be immunized against particular diseases before they begin school.
What Immunizations Does California Require for Students?
The immunization requirements for students are based on the grade they are entering. It is important to note that all students enrolled in any California school, whether private or public, are required to have these school immunizations before they begin school. Only students who are homeless or in foster care may garner some leeway on these requirements, but they will still be obligated to get up-to-date on vaccinations as quickly as possible once enrolling in school.
Students who are beginning kindergarten are required to be up to date on the following vaccinations:
- Polio (4 doses)
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (Tdap or DTaP) (5 doses)
- Hepatitis B (3 doses)
- Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR) (2 doses)
- Varicella (Chickenpox) (2 doses)
Students entering seventh grade are required to have the following vaccinations:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (Tdap or DTaP) (1 additional dose, usually given around 11 years of age)
- Varicella (Chickenpox) (2 doses)
Students entering childcare may have requirements they have to meet as well, depending on their age. It is also important to note that for students who previously held a personal beliefs exemption, they will now be required to be brought up-to-date on their vaccinations in order to continue their schooling years and progress to the next grade level.
What if We Transfer into a School in California?
If your child previously attended a school that did not require immunization records but he or she is transferring to any California school, he or she will need to be up-to-date on vaccinations before enrolling in school. Previously held exemptions for personal beliefs or on record at other schools will no longer be viable or acknowledged, so the only way to enroll a student in a California school is to ensure he or she is up-to-date on school immunizations. If you’re uncertain of what’s required for your student, in particular, or you need to know what immunizations they are missing, you can contact your child’s pediatric office to check their records.
How Can I Get My Kids Up-to-Date on School Immunizations?
If you do determine that your child is missing some immunizations that they need to attend school, you should take care of getting them up-to-date sooner rather than later. School will begin before we know it and it’s better to get all of the logistics taken care of sooner rather than later. You can contact your nearby kids’ care pediatrics office, your local pediatrician, or the county health services department, like an NCHS office. Our offices can serve as your primary care doctor as well as your child’s pediatric physician, and we can do general wellness checkups required for school admission and sports activities, as well as give immunizations and take care of your entire family when you’re sick.
Particularly if your child is significantly behind on his or her school immunizations, you should make an appointment as soon as possible to get them caught up. Since all required vaccinations have multiple doses that are needed, if your child is very behind, it can take some time to get caught up. Most vaccinations require a certain period of time to pass between receiving the different doses, so it’s best to start earlier rather than later in bringing your child up to date on required immunizations.