Walgreens The Thread

Back-to-school vaccines: An easy guide for parents

By Walgreens Mar 02, 2023 • 7 min

Parents know that back-to-school season means getting everything their kids need for day one: school supplies, new clothes and, yes, immunizations. Every state requires schoolchildren to get vaccinated against certain communicable diseases. Luckily, you can get many of your family’s routine immunizations and catch up on missed immunizations at Walgreens by making an appointment at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine.

Unsure of what vaccines your kids need? From COVID-19 and Tdap to meningitis and HPV, here’s an easy guide to help you keep track of which ones your kids may need, when they need them and how to get them.

What vaccines do my kids need?

Vaccines for school-age kids

Here are the vaccines your children ages 4 to 6 should receive and may need before starting kindergarten:

  • Flu — needed every year
  • COVID-19
  • Measles, mumps and rubella — or MMR, for short
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) — known as DTaP
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Polio (IPV)

Additional vaccinations that your elementary school–age children ages 7 to 10 should receive include:

  • Flu — needed every year
  • COVID-19
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) — recommended starting at age 9

Heading into middle school (ages 11 and 12), your preteen may need the following vaccines:

  • Flu — needed every year
  • COVID-19
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) — known as Tdap (this vaccine is different from DTaP)
  • Meningitis (Meningococcal conjugate, called MenACWY)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)

In junior high and high school (ages 13 to 18), your children should receive the following immunizations:

  • Flu — needed every year
  • COVID-19
  • Meningitis
    • Meningococcal conjugate, called MenACWY — 2nd dose at age 16
    • Serogroup B meningococcal, called MenB — preferably between ages 16 and 18
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) — if they have not previously received it

Vaccines for college-age teenagers

College is an exciting time when your teenagers gain a whole new level of independence. Before their first semester begins, make sure your teenager is up to date on all their vaccinations and that they have the following vaccines:

  • Flu — needed every year
  • COVID-19
  • Serogroup B meningococcal, called MenB — if they have not previously received it
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) — if they have not previously received it

In most states, you’ll need immunization records to enroll your child in school. You can get them from your healthcare provider. Your Walgreens pharmacist can also give you immunization records; however, this will only include vaccines your child has received at Walgreens pharmacies. (If your child also received immunizations at the doctor’s office, make sure to get the verifying documents from your healthcare provider.) For more information about school immunization requirements in your state, reach out to your state’s health department, your child’s school or your child’s healthcare provider.

Not sure whether your children have missed immunizations or which ones they are due to have? Our Walgreens pharmacists can help identify which vaccines they need. Pharmacy Chat makes it easy to connect with Walgreens pharmacy experts 24/7.

Why are vaccines especially important now?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more kids delaying or missing routine immunizations that are normally given during their well-child appointments. Missing immunizations puts kids at higher risk of catching serious, preventable diseases, such as measles, meningitis or whooping cough. And even if children don’t get severely ill themselves, without the protection vaccines provide, kids are more likely to pass germs along to people around them who may get severely ill. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

Vaccines are safe and effective, and they’re our best defense against the spread of these life-threatening, preventable diseases. If you have any questions or concerns about getting your children vaccinated, talk with your healthcare provider or your local Walgreens pharmacist.

What if my kids are afraid of getting shots?

No one likes getting shots. In fact, up to one-quarter of adults in the U.S. are afraid of needles, fears that often started when they were children. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your kids’ fear and anxiety about getting shots. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • Be honest and calm when talking about the shot, to give your child a chance to mentally prepare
  • Give your child something sweet before the shot, which may reduce pain sensations
  • Let your child bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal
  • Hold your child during the shot to provide feelings of safety and reassurance
  • Comfort your child after the shot

Check out this video for more information about making shots less stressful for your child.

When can I get back-to-school immunizations for my kids?

You can make a vaccine appointment anytime at your local Walgreens. To schedule, visit Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine.

And don’t forget! From notebooks to hand sanitizer, Walgreens is a quick and easy place to pick up back-to-school essentials. Get everything crossed off your list in one trip, so you can get back to enjoying the long summer days, worry-free. To find your nearest Walgreens location, visit Walgreens.com/FindAStore.  

Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply. 
Published March 2023.

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