Current Florida law requires students to have specific immunizations for entry into kindergarten:
- 5 doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
- 4 doses of polio vaccine (IPV)
- 2 doses of mumps, measles, rubella vaccine (MMR)
- 2-3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine (Hep B) according to age series
- 2 doses of varicella vaccine (unless you have a documented case of chicken pox)
Requirements for K4 students are similar, except only 4 doses of DTaP, 1 dose of MMR, and 1 dose of varicella. Additionally, a tetanus booster (Tdap) is required before entry into 7th grade.
Every parent has the right to choose whether or not they immunize their child. If you do not have your child immunized with the above State of Florida required immunizations, the state requires you to file a medical or religious exemption with the school.
Florida statute requires the governing authority of each private school to provide information to parents regarding available immunizations and vaccinations, including the Center for Disease Control recommended immunization schedule and detailed information about meningococcal disease and vaccination.
In providing this information, neither the school or the school nurse is endorsing or recommending immunization for your child. Learning about vaccinations can be overwhelming and confusing. If you have any questions or concerns making decisions regarding your child, please feel free to talk to me or consult with your pediatrician.
Summary of Immunizations
Currently there are many vaccines available to protect children from disease and recommended for children by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control. Below is a brief summary and schedule of each vaccine recommended for children. Complete “vaccination information sheets” for all vaccinations, listing specific side effects, risks, and contraindications, are available from the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/current-vis.html. The summary below is drawn from the CDC website and other helpful resources (www.kidshealth.org and www.aap.org). The first 5 immunizations listed are required for State of Florida school entry, unless an exemption is provided. The remaining 7 are recommended for children, but not required for school entry in Florida.
DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis)
- Diphtheria is a serious infection of the throat that can block the airway and cause severe breathing difficulty. Tetanus (lockjaw) is a nerve disease caused by toxin-producing bacteria contaminating a wound. Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory illness with cold symptoms that progresses to severe coughing.
- 5-dose series is routinely administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. This is followed by a Tdap booster at age 11-12, and Tdap booster every subsequent 10 years.
Hep B (Hepatitis B)
- Hepatitis B affects the liver. Those who are infected can become lifelong carriers of the virus and may develop chronic illness such as liver disease (cirrhosis) or cancer of the liver.
- 3-shot series with first dose recommended shortly after birth, the second dose is given at 1-4 months and the third dose at 6-18 months.
IPV (Inactivated Polio Virus)
- Polio is a viral infection that can result in permanent paralysis.
- Many adults received an oral form of the vaccine which carried a small risk of developing polio.
- The current injected vaccine should not be given to children with severe allergy to neomycin, streptomycin, or polymyxin B.
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
- Measles is a highly contagious viral infection associated with a rash that can lead to other health problems such as pneumonia, myocarditis, and encephalitis.
- Mumps is a contagious infection causing inflammation in many parts of the body, including the salivary glands causing the glands to swell and become painful. Rarely, mumps can lead to complications including encephalitis, meningitis, and sterility for males.
- Rubella (German measles) is a viral infection that affects skin and lymph nodes. While a mild disease in children, the virus can pass to a pregnant woman and to her developing baby causing congenital defects.
- 2-dose series at 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
- Chickenpox is a common and very contagious childhood viral illness.
- This is now a 2-shot series given at 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
- Occasionally children who have been vaccinated do get chickenpox but have a mild case.
Hep A (Hepatitis A)
- Hepatitis A virus causes fever, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and can lead to community-wide epidemics.
- Child care centers are a common source of outbreaks.
- Asymptomatic carriers can spread the disease to others.
- Recommended for administration at 12-23 months, followed by a second dose 6 months later.
- Also recommended for children and adults traveling to certain countries.
Hib (Haernophilus Iinfluenzae Type B)
- Haernophilus influenzae type b bacteria were the leading cause of meningitis in children until the Hib vaccine became available. The bacteria can also cause pneumonia, pericarditis, and infections of the blood, bones, and joints.
- 3-shot series at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months with a booster dose at 12-15 months.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine)
- Human pappillomavirus is the most common sexually-transmitted virus in the US and can cause cervical cancer and genital warts in women.
- This new vaccine (Gardasil) 3-shot series is recommended by CDC for girls 11-12 years or girls 13-26 years who did not receive it earlier. The second dose is given 2 months after dose 1. The third dose is given 6 months after dose 1 (4 months after dose 2).
- Commonly known as “the flu,” influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. Children 6 months to 5 years, and children or adults with chronic medical conditions, are considered “at risk” for developing complications related to the flu.
- Children under 9 are recommended to have 2 separate shots (inactivated virus) given a month apart for maximum protection. Because the protection wears off and the flu virus is constantly changing, an updated vaccine is recommended each year.
MCV4 (Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
- Meningococcal disease, from the neisseria meningitides bacterium, is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane that protects the brain and spinal cord, is a rare highly contagious and life-threatening disease that can spread rapidly among children and young adults who are in close quarters.
- The vaccine is recommended at 11-12 years, or at age 15, or for older teens entering college and living in a dormitory setting.
PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
- The pneumococcus bacterium is the leading cause of serious infections, including pneumonia, blood infections, and bacterial meningitis. Children under 2 are most susceptible to this bacteria spread through person-to–person contact.
- 4-shot series at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15 months.
- Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe diarrhea, mostly in babies and young children, often accompanied by vomiting and fever.
- 3-dose oral vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.
Common side effects with all vaccine injections are swelling, redness, and tenderness at the injection site. Fever, headache, fatigue, and mild rash may also be experienced after oral or injected vaccines. These minor discomforts may last a day or two and may be relieved with administration of acetaminophen or ibuprophen.
Seek immediate medical care if complications or severe symptoms develop after immunization, including seizures, fever above 105 degrees F, difficulty breathing, hives, or uncontrolled crying more than 3 hours.
Immunizations should be delayed if your child is ill; however, simple colds and minor illness should not prevent vaccination.