Arkansas Changes School Immunization Requirements

LITTLE ROCK -- Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, kids over age 11 heading to public or private school will need an additional shot.

On Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) announced children 11 years of age or older will be required to receive a Tdap shot,  effective September 1, 2014. This shot was already required for students entering Grade 7 but the state has lowered the age requirement.

Only one Tdap is required, so children who have already received the shot will not need another. Students who will be 11 years old on or before September 1 will have until October 1 to meet this new shot requirement.

An ADH press release explains the purpose of this change is to better protect Arkansas school children in the age groups with the highest rates of pertussis, also called whooping cough. The Tdap shot also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

According to ADH, other immunization requirements that will be effective Sept. 1, 2014 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.

There are also changes to the requirements for attending childcare facilities, such as daycares, in Arkansas. In addition to the previous requirements, children in childcare will need one or two Hepatitis A shots, depending on their age. Children will need one to four Polio shots, depending on their age, and to wait at least six months after the third polio shot before getting the fourth one.

The complete immunization requirements can be found on the Arkansas Department of Health’s Rules & Regulations webpage at

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