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Everything You Need to Know About Back-to-School Vaccinations

Get your kids up to date on their immunizations, flu shots and checkups

Child gets his back to school vaccinations

Get your kids up to date on their immunizations, flu shots and checkups

Fall means back to school for a lot of San Diego kids. It's also a great reminder to make sure yours are up to date on their immunizations, get a flu shot and have had a checkup.


Recent changes in state law require students' vaccines to be current. Immunization records are specifically checked upon entering preschool, kindergarten, seventh grade and when switching schools. Kids who aren't immunized can't attend classes without a valid exemption from a physician. Also, parents can no longer opt out with a personal belief exemption.


“No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but by having a high percentage of the population up to date on immunizations, the risk is kept down for everyone,” says Michelle Dern, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Encinitas.


Immunizations are safe and effective when given according to the recommended schedule. Dr. Dern also recommends students get an annual checkup and be sure to get the flu vaccine when available in the fall.


The California Department of Education requires students have the following immunizations:

Students entering kindergarten

  • Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) — five doses 
  • Polio — four doses 
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) — two doses 
  • Hepatitis B — three doses 
  • Varicella (chicken pox) — one dose

Students entering seventh grade

  • Tetanus, reduced diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) — one dose 
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) — two doses


A complete list of recommended vaccinations can be found at cdc.gov.

Scripps Clinic vice president of primary care and internist Siu Ming Geary, MD. is featured on the cover of the September issue of San Diego Health.

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.