Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

How to Get Your Kids Up to Date on Vaccinations

Image of Child wearing a mask getting the COVID-19 vaccine. A child gets a bandage from Senior Airman Kim Williams, 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician, after receiving a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. When considering the options regarding vaccinating their child against any childhood disease, parents are advised to speak to a medical provider about their child’s medical conditions and any prior reactions to immunizations (Photo by: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs).

The COVID-19 pandemic drove the largest drop in childhood immunizations worldwide in 30 years, and health officials are urging parents to make sure their children are up to date on their shots as they return to more normal routines. 

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children have fallen behind on their immunizations in the Unites States and globally, increasing the risk for disease outbreaks,” said family nurse practitioner Donna Hoffman with the North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub-Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Division (DHA-IHD).

“Staying up to date on childhood immunizations is essential to optimizing protection against diseases such as measles, hepatitis, pertussis (whooping cough), chicken pox, and tetanus,” she said.

The good news: “If your child has fallen behind on immunizations, they will not need to restart a vaccination series,” Hoffman emphasized.

For COVID-19 vaccinations, here are the current age requirements.

Why are Immunizations and Boosters Necessary?

Vaccines are crucial to keeping our children healthy and avoiding an illness that can impact their daily lives. 

“If we got the initial doses of a vaccine to protect us from a disease, it only makes sense to keep that protection at the best level possible through the recommended schedule for booster doses,” said Dr. David Hrncir, regional medical director, Central Region Vaccine Safety Hub, DHA-IHD.

Keeping our military kids up to date on vaccinations also benefits our readiness to serve.

“Adults can suffer from vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, just like kids,” Hrncir said. “Repeated exposure to your kids with childhood diseases can test your body’s ability to avoid becoming ill. While sick, your force protection readiness is degraded.”

How DHA Can Help

If you use your local military hospital or clinic, contact the immunizations staff for availability of vaccines and instructions on getting appointments or walk-in hours. Beneficiaries enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Plus at their local MTF have priority. All others may use the clinic on a space-available basis. 

For those who use the TRICARE network, review information on covered services for both military medical treatment facilities and immunization clinics by state, as well as information on how to obtain immunizations through a TRICARE-authorized provider or a network pharmacy.

State immunization laws may vary for public and private schools, but four common childhood vaccines are required for entry into kindergarten in almost every state: diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and varicella (chicken pox).

Children who are traveling overseas or making permanent changes of station under military orders may require accelerated schedules or additional immunizations for diseases that are present in that area, Hoffman said. These diseases include Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and typhoid.

Parents can check with their local immunization clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel health site for additional information.

Resources

Health.mil, the official website for the Military Health System, maintains an immunization health care site providing information on childhood immunizations, including links to the CDC’s immunization schedules that describe the exact immunizations your child, tween, and teen should receive at different ages.

“It takes into account your child’s immune system’s maturity, and the risk of exposure to a particular disease in each age group,” Hoffman explained.

“For that reason, delaying immunization can leave your child unprotected which can have serious consequences not only for your child, but also for those who may be more vulnerable due to age or a weakened immune system.”

Vaccines can also protect tweens, teens, and college-age kids from common diseases, including meningitis, which can “spread easily in close communities like college dorms and social gatherings,” Hrncir said. The CDC adult schedule for immunizations is a good reference for your high-school and college-age kids 18 and older.

Additionally, children ages 11 to 12 can get the vaccine that prevents certain human papillomavirus-related adult cancers, Hrnicr said.

Other immunization resources include:

National Immunization Awareness Month
MHS’ Back-to-School Toolkit
Getting Your Baby Vaccinated
Why Vaccines are Important
Keeping Vaccination Records and Why

Military parents can contact the DHA’s 24/7 Immunization Healthcare Support Center at 1-877-GETVACC (1-877-438-8222) for assistance.

 

You also may be interested in...

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Underlying Condition List

Graphic explaining the risk of severe illness to COVID-19 under certain medical conditions. Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Cancer; Chronic kidney disease; COPD; Down Syndrome; Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant; Obesity; Pregnancy; Sickle cell disease; Smoking; or Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Increased Risk

You Might be at Increased Risk

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of many underlying medical conditions on the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Asthma ...

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: MMR

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) - two does of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.

Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 months. It’s also important teens and adults remain up to date on their MMR vaccination. Check out the #MMR vaccine resource center: https://health.mil/MMR #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Whooping Cough Vaccination

Whooping cough vaccination - whooping cough, or pertussis, is known for uncontrollable violent coughing which often makes breathing difficult. CDC recommend whooping cough vaccine for people of all ages.

Whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old. The best way to protect against whooping cough is by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is given in a combination vaccine that also protects against tetanus and diphtheria. https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/vaccines.html ...

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Travel

International Travel - COVID-19 Vaccines - CDC recommends you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before travel

Wherever you’re heading, use the #CDC Travelers’ Health destinations tool to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Chickenpox

Chickenpox Vaccination - The first doe is recommended at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

CDC recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine for children, adolescents, and adults who have never had chickenpox and were never vaccinated. See https://health.mil/chickenpox for more information. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Meningococcal

Meningococcal vaccine for college - some states, colleges and universities require meningococcal vaccination for certain students

CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for first-year college students living in residence halls. Talk to your child’s health care provider to see if they recommend meningococcal vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/risk-community.html. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Polio

Polio Vaccination - CDC recommends that children get four doses of polio vaccine, starting at age 2 months. Almost all children (99 out of 100) who get al the recommended does of polio vaccine will be protected from polio.

Thanks to widespread use of the polio vaccine, the United States has been polio-free since 1979. See https://health.mil/polio for more information. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Shot Record

Shot record - ensure all vaccines are input into your or your child's health record

Proof of your child’s vaccine records is likely to be required when registering them for school, including colleges and technical schools, childcare, or sports. Learn more about finding and updating vaccine records at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/records/find-records.html. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Homeschool

Vaccinations for homeschooler children - children receive immunizations early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age. The consequences of these diseases can be very serious, even life-threatening, for infants and young children

Even young children cared for at home can be exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases, from parents, siblings, visitors to their home, on playgrounds, or even at the grocery store. Get answers to your questions about recommended vaccines for your kids at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/FAQs.html. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Catch-Up

Catch-up vaccination schedule - Make sure that your child sees their doctor for well-child visits and recommended vaccines.

If your child missed some vaccines along the way, talk to their health care provider about the best and quickest way to get up to date. https://health.mil/vaccineschedules. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Routine Childhood

Routine Childhood Vaccination Schedule - Childhood immunizations are given starting at birth through 4-6 years of age

The recommended childhood immunization schedule in the U.S. protects against 14 diseases. Easy-to-read routine childhood vaccination schedules and immunization recommendations are available at https://health.mil/vaccineschedules. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jul 7, 2023

Immunization Awareness: Combination Vaccines

Combination Vaccines - You may be able to reduce the number of shots your child needs while protecting against the same number of serious diseases.

Some vaccines can be given together in one shot known as a combination vaccine. Talk to your health care provider about which combination vaccines might be right for you or your child. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/why-vaccinate/combination-vaccines.html. #ImmunizationAwarenessMonth #Vaccines #MilVax

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: What to do if You're at Risk

Graphic explaining how to what you should do if you have an underlying medical condition during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an extra supply (i.e., more than 30 days) of prescription medicines, if possible, to reduce your trips to the pharmacy. Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying medical condition because of COVID-19. Emergency departments have contingency infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care. Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest medical treatment facility or clinic.

If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an ...

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: Reduce Your Risk

Graphic explaining how to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.  The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people; Wear a mask over your nose and mouth; Stay 6 feet away from others; Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces; Wash your hands often; Clean and disinfect; and Monitor your health daily.

It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people ...

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 25, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery