Back to School Vaccinations: Why Are They Important?

Written by Becky Runnells, LPN and recipient of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s 2019 Immunization Champion Award.

With summer ending, many of us have back to school preparations on our “to do list.” But does your list include your child’s vaccinations?

Why are they important?

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

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 (also called pertussis) and measles – both are preventable by vaccines. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases once thought to be well controlled, including measles and whooping cough, are still occurring in this country.

The most effective way to prevent the spread of disease and keep your child and their peers healthy is to have them vaccinated! There are certain vaccines required prior to the start of preschool, kindergarten, seventh grade, and college. Students entering these grades, or who are entering school for the first time, will be required to show proof of immunization prior to school entry. Students who are not up-to-date on the required vaccines for their age may not be allowed to attend school.

What about a medical exemption?

If, in the opinion of a healthcare provider, a required immunization would be injurious to the health and well-being of the recipient, a Medical Exemption can be signed.

What about religious exemptions?

A religious exemption may be granted to an applicant only if immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief. A Certificate of Immunization Exemption for religious reasons shall by signed by the applicant or, if the applicant is a minor, by the parent/guardian or legally authorized representative. By signing the certificate, you are attesting that the immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief and that the belief is, in fact, religious and not based merely on philosophical, scientific, moral, personal, or medical opposition to immunizations.

If my child has a medical or religious exemption, can they be excluded?

A child granted a medical or religious exemption may be excluded from child care or school during a disease outbreak. The length of time a child is excluded from child care or school will vary depending on the type of disease and the circumstances surrounding the outbreak. Exclusion could range from several days to over a month.

What immunizations are recommended for my child?

To learn more about recommended vaccines by age, click here.

How do I know if my child is up-to-date on their vaccinations?

If you’re not sure whether your child is up-to-date on their vaccines, or if your child has missed vaccinations, contact your healthcare provider.

If you need to make an appointment for vaccinations, contact LCHC Medical Clinic at (641) 774-8103.