About Back-to-School Vaccines

With kids coming down with the mumps and other diseases making the news lately, we asked the medical professionals at MultiCare for advice about vaccines as kids and parents get ready for the start of school. Here is what they had to say.

Vaccinations protect your children from certain deadly diseases, prevent outbreaks, and promote healthy classrooms.

Children are due for a series of immunizations between the ages of 4 and 6, and again between the ages of 11 and 12, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some vaccines due at these ages are also required by the Washington State Department of Health prior to the first day of kindergarten and sixth grade.

Vaccine requirements sometimes change, so it’s important to keep up to date. Starting last fall, Washington students entering grades 9 through 12 are required to have two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

Vaccinations are important for both the health of your kids and the health of our community. Unvaccinated kids are more likely to catch and spread serious illnesses such as whooping cough and measles, which can be prevented by vaccines.


What vaccinations does my child need for school?

By the time your child enters kindergarten, required vaccinations include:

• MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)

• Polio

• DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

• Chickenpox

• A yearly flu shot

The average 11- to 12-year-old should receive these immunizations before school:

• Tdap (a booster for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)

• Human Papillomavirus (HPV, done in three doses)

• Meningitis (MCV4)

• A yearly flu shot

• Any missing shots from the list above or not received as babies, such as Hepatitis A vaccine


Where can I find my child’s vaccine records?

Contact your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic. If you can’t get a complete immunization history from your provider, you most likely can get records from the Washington State Immunization Information System; contact the Office of Immunizations and Child Profile at 360.236.3595 or 1.866.397.0337.


Where do I get my child vaccinated?

Oftentimes, children can receive vaccinations at their pediatrician’s office. Your doctor can answer your questions and help you decide whether vaccinations are best for your child. There also is a MultiCare Clinic at the South Hill Mall that is open five days a week. The MultiCare Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinic offers free immunizations to newborns and kids up to age 18. Visit the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Thurston County Health Department for more information about immunizations available throughout the South Sound.


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