New changes coming to required school immunizations

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) – Changes are coming to immunization requirements for children who attend public or private school in Arkansas.

According to a news release Friday from the Arkansas Department of Health, children who will be 11 years of age or older on or before September 1 of each school year will be required to receive a Tdap shot to attend school. They will have until October 1 to meet the new requirement.

The ADH states the requirement is to help better protect children against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The shot also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

In the past the Tdap shot was required for students entering the seventh grade. If a child has already received the shot, they will not have to get it again.

Other immunization requirements going into effect this September include:

  • Grade 7: students need a meningococcal shot. Students turning age 16 years on or before September 1 regardless of their grade will also need a meningococcal shot of they have not already had one. If they have had one prior to turning 16, they will need a second shot. Students turning age 16 years on or before September 1 will have until October 1 to meet this new requirement.
  • Grades 1 through 12: students need to have completed a series of four DTaP shots with one given on or after the student's fourth birthday. Only three DTaP shots are required if the student did not receive any before age 7 years. The DTaP shot is the pertussis shot for young children. It also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Kindergarten through Grade 12: students need to complete a series of two varicella shots. Varicella is also called chickenpox. History of disease can be provided in lieu of getting the shot, but only if it is reported by a medical professional.
  • Immunization changes are also being implemented at childcare facilities like daycares. The ADH states, in addition to previous requirements, children will need one or two Hepatitis A shots and one to four Polio shots, depending on their age.

    For a complete list of immunization requirements from the ADH click here.

    If a parent or guardian does not want their child to get a required shot, they must get an exemption before the start of the coming school year. More details about the exemption form can be found by calling the Immunization Section of the Arkansas Department of Health at 501-661-2169.

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