It’s almost back to school time, so let’s talk about your child and vaccines!

Routine vaccinations are a great tool to keep kids healthy, in school, and ready to learn.

What should I do if my child is behind on their vaccination schedule?

There’s no reason to worry! There are recommendations to help get your child up-to-date with their immunizations. Each vaccine has its own guidelines, so talk with your child’s healthcare provider to get them back on schedule.

Does my child really need catch-up vaccines?

Yes, and don’t delay!

If you have questions, please reach out to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can talk with you about specific vaccine questions and vaccines that may have been missed, and discuss catching up on your child’s vaccination schedule.

What if I need help paying for my child’s back-to-school vaccines?

Your child may be eligible for free vaccines. CDC’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program helps provide free vaccines to children who qualify. Click here for more information about Missouri’s VFC program, including where to find your nearest VFC provider.

Here are some ways that can help school-aged children get back on track and stay up-to-date with their vaccinations:

  • Remind families about kindergarten, middle, and high school vaccination recommendations and requirements. Summer is the perfect time to send reminders to families whose kids or teens do not have documentation of required school vaccinations to help families make a plan to get their students fully immunized and protected.
  • Provide vaccine information, stress the importance of vaccination, and give information on vaccine requirements for school entry to parents and guardians in back-to-school communications and events.
  • Display or share trusted back-to-school vaccination communication materials, like flyers and social media posts, via schools, school websites, and social media channels, and throughout your community to promote the importance of vaccines for our school-aged students.
  • Promote up-to-date immunization as part of September Attendance Awareness Month. Vaccines help keep students safe and healthy, which means more days at school learning!
  • Use every healthcare visit – including well-child checks, sports physicals, and other appointments – as an opportunity to discuss all recommended vaccines that are due or might have been missed and get students vaccinated at the same appointment. It is important to strengthen awareness about all ACIP-recommended childhood vaccines, including those that are not required for school entry, such as the benefits of flu, COVID-19, and HPV vaccination.
  • Check out the available toolkit from the Missouri Immunization Coalition or visit CDC’s Let’s RISE webpage for immunization catch-up tools and resources.

Help share the facts.

Boosting childhood vaccination rates will require efforts from healthcare systems, healthcare providers, schools, state and local governments, and families and communities to share the facts about the importance of routine vaccines to keep our students healthy, protected, and at school ready to learn!

Together, we can get routine immunizations back on track by working to reduce barriers, increase access, and strengthen vaccine confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my child need HPV vaccine?2023-02-03T15:38:58-06:00

HPV vaccine is important because it prevents infections that can cause cancer. That’s why you should talk to your child’s doctor and start the shot series today. HPV vaccine is cancer prevention!

How do you know the vaccine works?2023-02-03T11:57:53-06:00

Studies continue to prove HPV vaccination works extremely well, decreasing the number of infections and HPV precancers in young people since it has been available.

Why do they need HPV vaccine at such a young age?2023-02-03T12:00:11-06:00

Vaccines protect your child before they are exposed to a disease. That’s why we give the HPV vaccine earlier rather than later, to protect them long before they are ever exposed. Also, if your child gets the shot now, they will only need two doses. If you wait until your child is older, they may end up needing three shots.

Why do boys need the HPV vaccine?2023-02-03T12:00:31-06:00

HPV vaccination can help prevent future infections that can lead to cancers of the penis, anus, and back of the throat in men.

Are all of these vaccines actually required?2023-02-03T15:37:47-06:00

The HPV vaccine is strongly recommended by experts at the CDC and major medical organizations. School entry requirements are developed for public health and safety but don’t always reflect the most current medical recommendations for your child’s health.

What diseases are caused by HPV?2023-02-03T15:37:02-06:00

Some HPV infections can cause cancer—like cancer of the cervix or in the back of the throat—but you can protect your child from these
cancers in the future by getting them their first HPV shot today.

Are vaccines safe?2022-07-11T14:39:52-05:00

Vaccines are very safe and recommended! Currently, the United States has the safest vaccine supply in its history. The United States has a vaccine safety system that ensures vaccines are as safe as possible. Millions of children safely receive vaccines each year. The most common side effects are typically very mild, such as pain or swelling at the injection site.

Is my child really at risk for HPV?2023-02-03T12:02:53-06:00

HPV is a very common infection in women and men that can cause cancer. Starting the vaccine series today will help protect your child from the cancers and diseases caused by HPV.

What are the benefits of vaccines?2022-07-11T14:41:00-05:00

Without vaccines, your child is at risk of getting diseases that can cause severe illness, disability, and even death. Diseases such as measles and whooping cough are vaccine-preventable but can be deadly in an unvaccinated child. Vaccines can keep you, your child, and your family safe from vaccine-preventable illnesses.

I’m worried my child will think that getting this vaccine makes it OK to have sex.2023-02-03T15:35:03-06:00

Studies tell us that getting HPV vaccine doesn’t make kids more likely to start having sex. All children (Girls and Boys) ages 11-12 years should get the HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV infections. Talk to your child’s doctor TODAY!

What are the risks of vaccines?2022-07-11T14:41:46-05:00

Risks associated with vaccination are side effects, which are nearly always mild and can include redness and swelling at the injection site. These side effects almost always go away within a few days. Serious side effects after vaccination, such as an allergic reaction, are rare.

I’m worried about the safety of HPV vaccine. Is it safe?2023-02-03T15:36:23-06:00

Yes, HPV vaccination is very safe. Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, including pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. That’s normal for the HPV vaccine, too, and should go away in a day or two. Sometimes kids faint after they get shots, and they could be injured if they fall from fainting. Your child will stay seated after the shot to help protect him/her.

Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine while getting other vaccinations?2022-07-11T14:42:44-05:00

Children and teens can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other routinely recommended vaccines at the same visit. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommended for children as young as six months.

Can HPV vaccine cause infertility in my child?2023-02-03T12:04:09-06:00

There is no evidence available to suggest that getting HPV vaccine will have an effect on future fertility. However, women who develop an HPV precancer or cancer could require treatment that would limit their ability to have children.

Why are there so many doses for each vaccine? Does my child need them all?2022-07-11T14:44:53-05:00

Yes, your child needs all the recommended doses of each vaccine. These doses provide your child with the best defense possible. Some vaccines need more than one dose to build enough immunity to prevent disease or to boost immunity that may become less effective over time. Some viruses, such as the flu, change over time so new doses are needed annually. Every dose is important because each protects against diseases that can be serious for unvaccinated infants, children, and teens.

What are the ingredients in vaccines and what do they do?2022-07-11T14:46:34-05:00

Vaccines contain ingredients that cause the body to develop immunity. Vaccines also contain small amounts of other ingredients. All ingredients play necessary roles either in making the vaccine or in ensuring that the final product is safe and effective.

Can I wait until my child goes to school to catch up on vaccinations?2022-07-11T14:47:17-05:00

Young children can be exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases from a number of places prior to starting school. Children under five are at particular risk of catching these diseases because their immune systems have not built up the necessary protection to fight infection. Be safe and vaccinate your children against vaccine-preventable diseases before they start school.

Why do adolescents need vaccines? I thought they were just for babies and young children?2022-07-11T14:48:16-05:00

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lifetime to keep us safe from serious diseases. As protection from childhood vaccines wears off, adolescents need vaccines that will extend vaccine protection. Adolescents also need protection from other infections before the risk of exposure increases.

Should my child still get vaccinated for COVID-19 even if they already had it?2022-07-11T14:49:50-05:00

Yes, you can still add protection by getting vaccinated after having been infected with COVID-19. Children can get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as their symptoms have resolved, or if they were asymptomatic, they can get vaccinated when their isolation has ended.

I was vaccinated as an infant and as a child. Why do I need vaccines for college?2022-07-11T14:50:33-05:00

As college-aged adults, your exposures may change. Vaccinations like Hepatitis A, Meningococcus B, Pneumococcal, and HPV are appropriate for this exciting new chapter in your life. Some of these vaccines, such as HPV, are able to be given to pre-teens and older, and may not be necessary if they have already been received. Meningococcus B vaccine may be given as young as 16, so this also may not be needed if it has already been administered. Speak to your health care provider to make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccines so that you are prepared to begin this new chapter of your life safe from vaccine-preventable severe diseases

When is the best time to get my flu vaccine?2022-10-06T17:01:03-05:00

It’s best to be vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. However, even if you are not able to get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May.

Additional considerations concerning the timing of vaccination for certain groups include:

  • Adults, especially those 65 years and older, should generally not get vaccinated early (in July or August) because protection may decrease over time, but early vaccination can be considered for any person who is unable to return at a later time to be vaccinated.
  • Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. For those children it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to be given at least four weeks after the first. Vaccination during July and August also can be considered for children who need only one dose. Early vaccination can also be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy, because this can help protect their infants during the first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated).
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine during the same visit?2022-10-06T17:00:44-05:00

Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time if you are eligible and the timing coincides.

Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

Can I get a flu vaccine at the same time I get my COVID-19 booster shot?2022-10-06T17:00:29-05:00

Yes, you can get a flu vaccine at the same time you get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a COVID-19 booster shot.

Can children get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine during the same visit?2022-10-06T17:00:11-05:00

Yes, children who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same visit.

If your child is eligible, get them up to date on their recommended COVID-19 vaccine and annual flu vaccine as soon as possible. You can get both vaccines at the same time, but don’t delay either vaccination in order to get them both at the same visit. Both vaccines are recommended, and your child should get the recommended doses for each vaccine.

All children 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. Most children will only need one dose of flu vaccine. Your child’s healthcare provider can tell you if your child needs two doses of flu vaccine.

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