It's Time for Back to School Immunizations

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 5:14am

Individual and Community Immunity Helps Prevent Outbreaks

The back to school sales advertising has begun meaning that the end of summer and the beginning of school are fast approaching. Aside from school supplies, parents also need to begin to make sure that their children are up to date on their vaccinations before the school year begins.

"Now is a good time to make an appointment with your health care provider, or go to a free public health immunization clinic to have your child immunized," says Diane McHugh, Immunization Specialist for Public Health - Madison and Dane County (PHMDC). "As of October 1, Federal budget cuts will mean that Public Health is only able to immunize children who do not have health insurance, or who have Medical Assistance (MA), who are Native American/Alaskan Native, or who have only major medical insurance. Children who are covered by private health insurance will need to get immunizations from their medical clinic. And getting it done early will also mean avoiding the late summer and early fall rush at doctor's offices and immunization clinics."

The required vaccines are:
• a tetanus/pertussis/diphtheria booster (Tdap) for grades 6-12, and
• a second varicella dose for all but 5th and 11th grades this school year (The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox)
• all grades also require 4 doses of DTaP, 4 of polio, 2 of MMR and 3 of hepatitis B

Dane County, Wisconsin, and the U.S. are in the midst of a pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak. The greatest number of pertussis cases in Dane County this year has been in school-age children. The Tdap vaccine can help prevent whooping cough or lessen its severity.

Getting vaccinated helps protect other people too. For example, an infant under 6 months of age is not yet fully protected by the vaccines already received. When an infant is surrounded by people who have been immunized, he or she is much better protected against vaccine preventable diseases. This protection also applies to school-age children with compromised immune systems who can't be immunized against some diseases. In other words, each immunized person becomes a link in a protective shield that keeps these diseases from spreading widely. The larger the percentage of immunized people, the higher the level of "community immunity".

In addition to the required vaccines, there are other important vaccines such as those for meningococcal meningitis and human papilloma virus (HPV) that are recommended for older children and teens. Talk to your child's health care provider to be sure you have received all the immunizations recommended to protect their health.

Wisconsin provides a great online resource that allows you to easily check your own or your children's immunization records. The Wisconsin Immunization Registry can be found at the following website:

PHMDC has walk in immunization clinics in Madison (East and South), Verona, Middleton, Stoughton, and Sun Prairie. Appointments are not needed. For a schedule, call (608) 246-4516, or go to


Public Health - Madison & Dane County


  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302