Common Vaccine Requirements for School

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 for your child in your state.

Children raising their hands in a classroom
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What follows are the immunizations that are commonly required for most schools in the United States, 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 they start school.


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 a hepatitis A shot, and in many parts of the United States, it's required for young children to attend preschool. The vaccine is given in two doses, at least six months apart.

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.

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