As parents, we worry about doing everything necessary to make our children’s transition to school as easy as possible. One of the most unpleasant things parents have to deal with is seeing little ones get their school vaccinations. My daughter starts kindergarten this year, and I hate the prospect of watching a doctor stick a needle in her arm to meet state vaccination requirements. Each state is different, and the Arizona Department of Health Services Immunization Program Office establishes school immunization guidelines and the city of Tucson must follow these vaccination requirements. From the time children are born in Arizona or relocate to the state, parents receive this blue immunization card that serves as a record of inoculations.
Children 7 years old and younger
(Kindergarten and above)
Children entering kindergarten should have four to five doses of DTaP/DTP/DT vaccines to meet state requirements. They should receive at least one dose at four years old or older. Children may need 6th dose if you child received five doses before four years old.
Children 7 to 10 years old
(Kindergarten to 5th grade)
Children seven to 10 years old should have had at least four DTaP vaccinations or three tetanus and diphtheria doses after 12 months old.
Children 11 years old or older
(6th and 7th graders)
Children need one Tdap dose if five years have passed since their last DTaP, DTP, DT or Td vaccinations. If students have had three tetanus and diphtheria doses, they only need one Tdap dose for to meet state requirements for schools. Children in this age group also need one dose of the meningococcal vaccination.
Children 11 years old or older
(8th to 12th graders)
If 10 years have passed since your children’s last DTaP, DTP, DT or Td vaccinations, they need one dose of Tdap. At this time, parents should make sure to have updated tetanus and diphtheria doses.
Other Vaccination Requirements
As parents, you have to make sure other vaccination requirements have been meet in the state of Arizona. Children should have three to four doses of the polio vaccination by the time they are four years old. They should have two doses of the MMR vaccination by 12 months old and the hepatitis B vaccine by 24 weeks old.
In the 2009/2010 school year, the State of Arizona requires the varicella, or chicken pox vaccination, for kindergarteners through 5th graders and 7th to 11th graders. If children have had the chicken pox, they are exempt from this vaccination. Children’s physicians can provide verification that children have had the chicken pox. The immunization card has a special box where doctors mark whether or not children have had their chicken pox vaccines.
Parents must provide valid information to the school before the first day of school before administrators allow children to attend. Homeless children are given a 5-day grace period to get their state required school vaccinations. State laws have exemptions for medical reasons, laboratory evidence of immunity and personal beliefs.
The vaccination can be confusing, but parents can visit the department of health services website or visit their county’s health department to clarify any information that they can’t comprehend. The Pima County Health Department provides information on back-to-school immunization locations where parent can get inexpensive shots for their children.