Stay ahead of the class: Ways to get your family caught up on vaccinations before the new school year starts. 

Getting ready for school may be the last thing you want to do in the middle of the summer, but once August hits, doctors’ appointments often book up quickly. Now’s the perfect time to make sure your child has the vaccinations they’ll need to start the new year without a hitch. Not only are vaccines required for school and childcare, they’re also one of the best tools you’ve got to help your child stay healthy and thrive, this year and beyond. 

Start with your healthcare provider 

If your child has a doctor, we recommend getting ahead of the crowd and making an appointment now. Once August hits, appointments often book up quickly. You can use this opportunity to also talk with your child’s doctor about any other health concerns, get a general wellness check, or complete a sports physical. Some healthcare providers offer vaccination-only visits if you’re pressed for time or have no other healthcare needs.  

In Washington state, all children through age 18 can get vaccinated at no cost from a healthcare provider that participates in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Your healthcare provider might charge an administration fee (a fee for delivering the vaccine), but you can ask to have it waived if you can’t afford it. Find a VFC provider near you.  

No-cost vaccination clinics may be a good option for your family

Multiple back-to-school clinics are underway in the coming weeks, hosted by Docere Center for Natural Medicine, HealthPoint, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, and Stepping Stone Pediatrics. 

Clinics are open to children through age 18 who: 

  • Live in South King County or 
  • Are uninsured or have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccinations or 
  • Are experiencing homelessness or 
  • Recently moved to the United States and don’t have a medical provider.  

Vaccines at these clinics are free and you don’t need insurance or proof of immigration status. The clinic may ask you to provide insurance information, but they won’t charge you or turn anyone away for lack of insurance. Children, including teens, must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian. If you’ve got vaccination records from another state or country, bring them!  


What immunizations are required for school?  

Vaccines required for school protect children from nine different serious diseases. A child can meet the requirements by showing evidence that they are immune from past infection or by getting the required vaccines. These include: 

  • DTaP for kindergarten/Tdap for seventh grade (protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) 
  • Hepatitis b 
  • MMR (protects against measles, mumps, rubella) 
  • Polio 
  • Varicella (also known as chickenpox) 

Find immunization charts for school in 16 different languages. 

Where can I find more information on vaccinations for school and childcare in Washington state? 

Visit the Washington Department of Health’s webpage: School and Child Care Immunizations Information for Families. 

Originally published 7/13/2023