Back-to-School Vaccine Tips

Top 5 Tips: What Parents Need to Know About Back-to-School Vaccines

Making sure your kids receive all of their vaccines on time is one of the most important things you can do to ensure their long-term health. Babies, college students, and every child in-between need vaccines.

Babies, college students and every child in-between need vaccines.

Many parents find themselves asking a lot of questions at back-to-school time. Every parent has their child’s health as their top priority. However, as kids grow and change, the vaccines they require change as well. This can get confusing and difficult to manage as kids return to school year after year, and each age brings different immunization requirements.

Ensure your kids are covered with our top 5 tips on back- to-school immunizations for parents:

1. Know which vaccines the State of California requires for kids in school.

California law requires all children to be immunized before entering school. Exemptions are granted if the parent or guardian submits a written statement from a licensed physician verifying that the physical condition or medical circumstances of the child are such that the child cannot be immunized. For a list of which immunizations students entering school must show, click here.

2. Be aware of the health and social risks of NOT vaccinating your child:

Aside from the social limitations of your child not being able to enter school or daycare without being vaccinated, there are serious health risks to not vaccinating your child. Disease outbreaks still happen, as was demonstrated with a record number of measles cases in 2014 reported to the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Measles was completely eradicated in 2000, but has seen a steady increase in cases due to a decrease in childhood vaccinations in the student population. *Ref: CDC

3. Educate yourself on the effects of vaccines on children, and prepare for the process:

  • Before the doctor visit, learn more about the benefits and risks of the vaccines that your child will receive by reviewing Vaccine Information Statements available online through the CDC. You can also request Vaccine Information at your Scripps Affiliated Medical Group doctor’s office.
  • Find your child’s personal immunization record and bring it to their vaccination appointment. An up-to-date record will prevent over-vaccination, and make for a smoother visit.
  • Vaccines can be as stressful for parents as they are for kids. Nobody likes to get a shot, and kids often get upset when vaccines are administered. Bring a favorite toy or blanket to comfort your child during the visit and remain calm and soothing, even if your child gets upset.

Bring a favorite toy or blanket to comfort your child during the visit and remain calm and soothing, even if your child gets upset.

  • For older children, be honest with them about why they are getting the vaccine and the fact that it might pinch a little, but won’t last.
  • Manage your child’s reaction to the vaccine. Sometimes kids experience mild pain, rash, or a low fever as a reaction to being vaccinated. This is normal and will go away within a few days. Keep your kids well hydrated after their vaccinations, and keep an eye out for abnormal reactions. Call your doctor if anything concerns you.

4. Research the best place to get vaccines for your child.

  • Your family doctor is always your best bet, as they are familiar with the health history of your child and have an established relationship with them.
  • If you do not have an established family doctor, pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS have vaccination services available.

If you are looking for a family doctor, Scripps Affiliated Medical Group has caring pediatricians located all over town. Find a family medicine doctor near you by clicking here.

  • For those without health insurance, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may have doctors available to vaccinate your children.  This program provides free vaccines to health care professionals for administration to eligible kids, although some administration fees may still apply. To qualify, children must be under 19 years old, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian, Alaska Native, or have no health insurance.

5. Plan for the cost of back-to-school vaccines for kids.

As mentioned above, VFC may enable you to get low cost or free vaccinations for kids. If you have health insurance, most plans cover the cost of vaccines for kids, but check with your health insurance provider before scheduling the back-to-school vaccination appointment.

Not all of the back-to-school vaccines are covered, so you may want to shop around for the best price on the vaccines that insurance doesn’t cover. This will be the case for vaccines administered both at the doctor’s office, and independent pharmacies.

It is important to remember that it’s never too late to vaccinate! If a child misses a dose, your family doctor can get them back on track with a catch-up immunization schedule. Vaccinating your child provides the best protection possible from disease and long term health issues. Contact your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups Family Medicine doctor to schedule your child’s back-to-school vaccinations today! They can work with you to put together a plan that will meet all of your kids’ back-to-school health needs.


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