LOS ANGELES - As students across the county continue to prepare for a new school year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reminds parents and guardians that incoming kindergarteners and 7th graders need certain immunizations (shots) in order to attend school. Californias school immunization law applies to transfer students and all children entering kindergarten and seventh grade in public, private, and charter schools. It was designed to protect children from diseases that can spread easily and cause serious complications.
"Children come into contact with dozens of students, teachers, and staff every day, so even one case of a disease like measles, influenza, or pertussis (whooping cough) can easily turn into many, whether at school or at home when older children have younger, unvaccinated siblings," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "The best defense that parents can use to protect their children from these and other serious disease is to get them up-to-date with recommended immunizations before they return to school."
Immunizations Required for Kindergarten Entry
Before entering kindergarten, students must submit proof that they received the required number of doses of the following vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis); MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella); Varicella (chickenpox), unless the child has proof that he or she had chickenpox; Hepatitis B, and Polio.
It is also recommended that kindergarten students receive an annual influenza vaccine and get caught up with hepatitis A vaccine doses, if they did not previously receive all recommended doses.
Immunizations Required for 7th Grade Entry
All students entering the 7th grade must show proof that they received a pertussis booster (Tdap) shot after their seventh birthday. Tetanus (Td) vaccines do not meet the school requirement. Though not required for school entry, adolescents should also receive: Three doses of HPV vaccine at 11-12 years of age; Meningococcal conjugate vaccine at 11-12 years of age, along with a booster dose at 16 years of age, and An annual influenza vaccine.
These vaccines boost immunity, protect against serious diseases that adolescents may encounter as they transition into adulthood, and prevent the spread of disease to family and community members. Parents should also make certain that their adolescents have received the immunizations that they should have received as children, including two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine if they have not had chickenpox.
"Parents may choose to exempt their children from immunization requirements, but this leaves their children, as well as others who cannot be vaccinated, at risk for serious diseases," says Dr. Fielding. "In addition, if there is a disease outbreak, unvaccinated children can be kept home from school until they are no longer at risk for the disease, which can be days or even weeks. To keep children healthy and in the classroom it is important that parents have their children fully vaccinated."
Resources Los Angeles County residents are encouraged to contact their regular healthcare provider to arrange for vaccinations for their children. Those who do not have a regular healthcare provider or any type of health insurance coverage for vaccines may call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone within the county. Or visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip for referrals to providers offering immunizations at no-charge or at a reduced-charge. Parents may review a listing of all recommended immunizations at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/syndication/vaccineSchedule .htm. Additional information regarding school immunization requirements can be found at www.shotsforschool.org.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.