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PA School Vaccination Requirements

It’s almost back to school time! Are your school-age kids ready? Towards the end of summer, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with PA’s school vaccination requirements to make sure your child is ready for the school year. If your child isn’t up to date on vaccines, it may lead to exclusion from attendance and possible health risks.

Keep reading to learn about Pennsylvania school immunization requirements and explore commonly asked questions to help your entire family stay protected.

Who sets PA school vaccination requirements?

 All Pennsylvania school immunization requirements are set by the Department of Health. The goal is for all children attending school in Pennsylvania to be adequately protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

The Department of Health continues to monitor for necessary changes to Pennsylvania school immunization requirements. The most recent changes to the Pennsylvania school immunization schedule were made in 2017.

What’s the current Pennsylvania school immunization schedule?

According to the PA Department of Health, in order to attend school children in all grades need the following vaccines:

  • Four doses of tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis, or DTP/DTaP (one dose on or after your child’s 4th birthday)
  • Four doses of polio (one dose on or after your child’s 4th birthday)
  • Two doses of measles/mumps/rubella, or MMR
  • Three doses of hepatitis B
  • Two doses of varicella (chickenpox) or evidence of immunity

For 7th-grade students (in addition to all grade school requirements listed above):

  • One dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) by the first day of 7th grade
  • One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) by the first day of 7th grade

For 12th-grade students (in addition to all grade school requirements listed above):

  • One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) by the first day of 12th grade – if one dose was given at age 16 or older, it counts as the 12th-grade dose

Are homeschooled or virtual students still required to get vaccines?

Yes, all students must meet the PA school vaccination requirements, regardless of their classroom setting.

What if my child doesn’t have their vaccines by the first day of school?

If your child has not followed the PA childhood vaccine schedule and did not receive a required single-dose vaccine by the first day of school, they may not be admitted.

If a multi-dose vaccine is medically appropriate at the time of school entry, you have five days to get your child vaccinated or risk their exclusion from school. If the required vaccine is not medically appropriate within the first five days of school, you must present a medical certificate (see below) that outlines when your child will receive it.

There are exceptions made for children transferring to a new school. If you are unable to provide immunization records immediately upon enrollment, you have 30 days to do so.

If you’re facing a vaccine deadline before the first day of school (or once school begins), you’ll want to contact your primary care physician (PCP), a local pharmacy, or a community health resource as soon as possible.

What is a medical certificate?

Also known as a “red and white card,” a medical certificate is an official form provided by the Division of Immunizations in the Department of Health. The certificate outlines the plan to complete your child’s required school immunizations. It must be signed by a physician, certified registered nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or public health official (when immunization is provided by the Department of Health).

If a vaccine is medically appropriate during the five-day period after school begins, you cannot use the medical certificate to get extra time. Also, if your child does not receive their vaccines by the dates listed on the medical certificate, your school administrator can begin exclusion measures.

Are there any exemptions available?

Yes, exemptions to Pennsylvania school immunization requirements include medical reasons, religious beliefs, and strong moral or ethical convictions against vaccines. A waiver signed by a parent must be documented and kept with the student’s records – this waiver only needs to be filled out once. However, if your child is exempt from immunizations, they may be removed from school during an outbreak.

What if I have a question about a specific vaccine?

vybe makes great healthcare easy for all, and that includes answering all your questions! Here are some common questions about the individual vaccines that make up the PA school immunization schedule.

My child had their third dose of the polio vaccine when they turned four. Do they still need a fourth dose?

No, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a fourth dose of the polio vaccine is not necessary if the third dose was given at age four or older (and at least six months after the previous dose).

Are doses of live injectable vaccines like the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) given at the same time, or do they have to be separated?

If live vaccines are not given at the same visit, they need to be separated by at least four weeks. This time period is intended to reduce or eliminate any interference between vaccines. vybe typically gives the MMR vaccine as a 3-in-1 shot – just let us know if you need one of these vaccines individually.

Can I provide a written statement confirming that my child already had chickenpox, or is verification needed from a doctor?

Without the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, you must provide evidence of immunity. This can come in two forms:

  • Laboratory evidence of immunity
  • A written statement confirming your child’s history of chickenpox signed by a parent, guardian, physician, certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant

My child had the Tdap vaccine at age 10, prior to 7th grade. Do they have to get another one at ages 11-12?

No, if your 10-year-old is already up to date with vaccinations, that dose can count for 7th grade.

If my child had the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) before age 10, do they need another dose to attend 7th grade?

Yes, because any MCV dose before age 10 does not count toward the 7th-grade dose. Your child will need another MCV dose by the first day of school.

Where can I find school vaccinations near me? What about vaccinations near me for adults?

If your child is due for a vaccine, you may contact your primary care physician (PCP), a local pharmacy, or a community health resource.  Depending on the specific vaccine your school-age child needs, you may be able to walk-in or schedule an appointment at a vybe urgent care.   Please check in advance about the specific vaccine you need. We also provide vaccines not required for school attendance and COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna.

Of course, vybe offers a wide range of urgent care services. From illness to injury, lab tests to physicals, vybe has you covered.