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Don’t Wait! Get Vaccinations Before School Starts

With the start of summer break, it’s the perfect time to schedule vaccinations for your children. By acting now, you can avoid the rush for vaccination appointments at the end of summer.

Did you know preschool, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and seventh grade children in Tennessee must get the required vaccinations before they can start a new school year? This includes school-age children new to Tennessee. Make an appointment with a health care provider now to get your child up to date on vaccinations before school starts.

All Children Need Vaccinations

Vaccines help protect people from harmful and often deadly diseases. Vaccines are strongly recommended by pediatricians, family doctors and public health experts. Children who do not get vaccines can spread preventable diseases to others in their school, daycare, family or community. Get more information on the importance of immunizations.

Vaccinations Are Needed Before Kindergarten, Seventh Grade

Parents and caregivers do not always know that children need vaccines after early childhood.These shots are in addition to the yearly flu shot. Remember that kids need certain vaccinations before kindergarten and others before seventh grade. Students aren’t allowed to attend schools until they receive those vaccines, so get them as soon as possible!

Get more information on which immunizations are needed at each age level.

Change in HPV Schedule

Parents should be aware of a change in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine schedule. Children who receive their first HPV shot before their 15th birthday will now need only two doses over a six-month period. If the child is 15 or older when they get the first dose, they will need to have three shots over a six-month period.

This change makes it easier for kids to complete the HPV vaccine series, with an extra reason to get the first shot early. The series is routinely given at age 11 or 12. Get more information on HPV vaccines.

Questions About Insurance Coverage

Who pays for the vaccines if my child has health insurance?

Most insurance plans, including TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid program), fully cover all recommended and state-required childhood vaccines. Insured children should visit their primary health care provider or other provider to receive all recommended vaccines. The provider will bill insurance for the vaccinations and any other needed services.

Who pays for the vaccines if my child is uninsured?

If your child is uninsured, local health departments and hundreds of private health care providers in Tennessee can provide vaccines through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. The VFC Program provides all vaccines at no cost to children who qualify. About half of the children in Tennessee are eligible.

In Tennessee, VFC vaccines are available at all local health departments and through more than 500 other clinics statewide enrolled in the VFC Program. Most pediatricians and many family doctors who see children participate in the VFC Program. Ask your child’s healthcare provider if they participate in VFC.

Track Your Child’s Medical Records

Be sure to keep your child’s medical history. Keep copies of their shot records in a safe place. Locating lost records later can be challenging. The best place to keep a child’s immunization record is in the Tennessee Immunization Information System (TennIIS). Get more information about tracking your child’s medical records through TIIS.

Get a Tennessee Certificate of Immunization

State law requires childcare facilities and schools through 12th grade to accept only an official Tennessee Certificate of Immunization as proof of vaccination for enrollment purposes.

Parents and guardians must get the completed, signed certificate from their primary care provider, a licensed health care provider in Tennessee or a local health department. Health care providers who use TennIIS also have an option to print out a certificate that is complete without a signature if your child’s record is confirmed as complete by TennIIS.

Get more information about the Tennessee Certificate of Immunization.

Additional Resources

Use these tips for low-stress vaccine visits.

For more information about vaccines, visit the Immunization Action Coalition website VaccineInformation.org.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or call the CDC at 800-232-4636.