Required vaccinations for children to go to school

Along with getting ready with supplies, getting lunch bags or lunch boxes ready, thinking about clothing, it’s a good time to also remember that there are some routine vaccinations that we need to think about for our children. With all of the disruptions and things that have happened in the last year and a half due to COVID-19, some some kids may have missed some of their routine vaccines. However, in order for children to go back to school in Ontario there are some required vaccines.

These vaccinations are:

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

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

Kids going into grade seven, may have missed the school-based vaccination programs that public health would normally come into the school and give. That would be for hepatitis B, a meningococcal vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis, and for the human papillomavirus, the HPV vaccine.

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.

Middle school and high school

I think at this point we’re all aware that there is a vaccine for COVID-19 and this is approved for anybody age 12 and up. Any teenager who is interested, and hasn’t yet received it, the vaccines are easily available and we know they’re very effective. It consists of two doses. That child would need to have their first dose and then a booster at around the four week mark.

Make sure to catch up on missed vaccines

So, remember that in the excitement of going back to school, which really is excellent news for our children and youth, that it’s a good time to make sure that you’ve looked after all the other health needs including their regularly scheduled vaccines. If your child is behind, there are easily available catch-up schedules that can be used in order to make sure that we get them back up to date.

Your primary health care provider or public health can help provide more information.

Additional resources:

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