It’s Back to School Time! What Does This Mean for Healthcare Providers?

Danielle Koenig
Child/Adolescent Health Educator

Office of Immunization and Child Profile
Washington State Department of Health

As one school year ends, those of us in health care are thinking already of the next year. Parents will be scheduling back-to-school wellness visits all summer, and these will include vaccinations, especially the kindergarten and sixth grade wellness checks. The Washington State Department of Health provided a few reminders to help you keep the kids in your practice healthy and safe.

  • Immunizations are part of EVERY visit. Depending on the child’s status, give the recommended vaccines for the child’s age, work with the parents on a catch-up schedule, or remind them when the next shot will be due.
  • Give or recommend a flu shot every year. If you have flu vaccine, recommend and administer it. If this year’s flu vaccine isn’t available yet at the time of the appointment, remind the parents to come in for it soon, or use the Flu Finder widget to find out where it’s in stock.
  • Vaccinate your 9- and 10-year-old patients against HPV. HPV vaccine is cancer protection. If you give their first dose at age 9 or 10, you’ll be able to finish out the two-dose series at age 11 when they come in for their Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, and get them fully protected before they’re exposed to the virus.
  • Child care centers have vaccination requirements, too. Make sure you are following the recommendations and fully immunizing kids below school age, too.
  • If parents are requesting an exemption, you must counsel them on the benefits and risks of vaccinating. You also may mention that without vaccinations, their children can be excluded during an outbreak, as happened this year during the mumps outbreak.
  • Teens and tweens need vaccines, too. They are required to have their Tdap booster for school, plus any required vaccines they missed at younger ages. You should also recommend HPV, meningococcal, and flu shots to protect them from cancer and other deadly diseases. Even a healthy teen can become very sick or die from flu; it happened this year in Washington. Also, some colleges require meningococcal vaccine for entry.


August 9 WCAAP Webinar: There Never Was An Age of Reason: Vaccines, Vaccine Hesitancy, and Vaccine Decision Making

School and child care requirements for Washington are listed here

Provider immunization resources from the Department of Health

For parents: “Plain Talk About Childhood Immunizations,” available online in English, Spanish, or Russian, or you may order free print copies in English or Russian.