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Routine vaccines

Dr. Pernica, pediatric infectious diseases specialist, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Required vaccinations for children to go to school

Back-to-school season is a good reminder to check up routine vaccinations for children. Throughout the pandemic and with the hustle and bustle of family life, some routine vaccines may have been missed. Along with getting supplies, lunch boxes and clothing ready for school, check out the list of vaccines that are required for children to go to school in Ontario.

These vaccinations are:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Meningococcal for meningitis
  • Pertussis for whooping cough
  • Varicella for chickenpox

“It’s important to receive routine childhood vaccinations to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases that can cause significant illness, hospitalization, spread, and even death,” says Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, pediatric infectious diseases doctor at McMaster Children’s Hospital. “If not enough children in the community get routine vaccines, we may see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases among kids, elderly people, or adults.”

Routine vaccinations for children are free.

Vaccinations required by grade

Preschool or junior kindergarten

When children are 18 months they should all have received the booster for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and haemophilus influenza b. If that one was missed, then it will be needed before starting school.

Senior kindergarten or grade one

At age four or five, children should receive their booster for measles, mumps, rubella, and for the chickenpox.

Grade seven

Ontario children routinely receive hepatitis B vaccine, meningococcus ACYW-135 vaccine, and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Grade 7 – but many children have missed these because of pandemic restrictions over the past few years. Please check your child’s vaccine records to see if they have gotten these – if not, Public Health can catch them up.

High school

Finally, as our children and young adults are coming into high school and on into university, at age 14 they should receive their tetanus and diphtheria booster which should be done every 10 years after that.

COVID and flu vaccines

We recommend COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines for all children attending daycare or school. COVID-19 vaccines are available now for children aged 6 months and up, and boosters are available for all children aged 16+ and for those aged 12+ at higher risk because of medical issues. Influenza vaccines will be available in the fall, as usual.

Learn about vaccine eligibility and booking at hamilton.ca.

Make sure to catch up on missed vaccines

If your child is behind on their vaccine schedule, there are easily available catch-up schedules that can be used. Your primary health care provider or public health can help provide more information.

Resources

Ontario’s routine immunization schedule
Vaccines for children & youth
A parent’s guide to vaccination
Immunize Canada
Canadian Immunization Guide
Ontario Ministry of Health
Hamilton Public Health

For all our kids going back to school, have fun!