Common Vaccine Requirements for School

Children raising their hands in a classroom

Tetra Images / Jamie Grill / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

When it's back-to-school time, there's no doubt you'll be stocking up on notebooks and pencils, getting a new backpack, and signing her up for afternoon activities. Here's one more thing to check off your to-do list: Make sure her vaccines are up-to-date. Some of the ones she got as a baby or toddler need to be repeated as she reaches certain ages.

What's more, vaccine laws can change from time-to-time, especially when a new one makes a debut. This happened when the chickenpox booster shot was introduced in 2006, for example. Different states may have different rules, as well, so it's important to know what's required where you live. For instance, the hepatitis A shot is only required for older children in certain areas of the United States that are considered to be high risk, so depending on where you live your child may not need it to go to school.

What follows are the immunizations that are commonly required for most schools in the U.S. and information about when they're commonly given, what they protect against and more. Use it as a guide only: Ask your child's pediatrician if your child needs any updated shots before she sets foot on the bright yellow school bus.


This is a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Most children have gotten five doses by the time they start school, including one after their fourth birthday.

A tetanus booster is required for kids at age 11 to 12. In addition, the Tdap vaccine (Boostrix or Adacel) is recommended for teens (including your high schooler) and adults to protect them from pertussis.


The MMR vaccine covers three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella and is especially important in this age of measles outbreaks. Two doses of MMR are usually required by the time a child is starting school. The typical schedule is one shot at age 1, and the second dose between ages 4 to 6.


This shot is for polio. Most children have four or five doses of polio vaccine by the time they start school, including one after their fourth birthday — just in time for kindergarten.


The varicella vaccine provides protection from chickenpox. If your child hasn't had chickenpox, she'll need the vaccine for school. She'll also be required to get a booster shot when she's between 4 and 6, even though she probably got the first dose when she was a toddler.

Hepatitis B

This vaccine is given in a series of three shots beginning in infancy. Older children have usually had all three by age 12.

Hepatitis A

All infants and toddlers routinely get this shot, and in many parts of the U.S., it's required for young children to attend preschool.

Typically, older kids have to get a second Hepatitis A shot only if they live in a high-risk area that has an existing hepatitis A immunization program or if they're personally at high risk — for instance, they travel to developing countries, abuse drugs, have clotting-factor disorders, or chronic liver disease.

Meningococcal Vaccine

All 11-to-12 year-olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against infections such as meningitis. Kids need a second shot at 16 so they stay protected when their risk is the highest.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.