The new school year will be starting soon. Among the supplies, new clothes and gadgets your child “can’t live without!” there IS something they cannot live without: vaccines to protect them from serious illness. If your child is starting pre-kindergarten up through high school, now is the time to get their shots (vaccines) up-to-date.

You must show proof at school registration that vaccines have been given. If you don’t provide a complete record by Oct. 1, your child will be sent home and not allowed to return until documentation is provided.

The following list of vaccines is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it is what most Arkansas doctors follow with their patients. There are fewer vaccines required by Arkansas law.

Kindergarten children (up to age 6) will need:

  • DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) – 5 doses, 1 dose after 4th birthday
  • Hepatitis A – 2 doses
  • Hepatitis B – 3 doses
  • Hib (type-B flu) – 4 doses
  • IPV (polio) – 4 doses, 1 dose after 4th birthday
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) – 2 doses
  • PCV (pneumonia) – 4 doses
  • RV (rotavirus) – 3 doses
  • Varicella (chickenpox) – 2 doses (may not be required if doctor verifies child had chickenpox)

Elementary and high school students (ages 7 to 18) will need ALL of the above vaccines PLUS the following:

  • Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) – 1 dose at age 11-12 and a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years throughout life
  • HPV – 2 doses if ages 9-14; 3 doses if starting vaccination at age 15 or older
  • Influenza (flu) – 1 dose every year, prior to flu season in the fall
  • Meningococcal (meningitis) – 2 doses, first at age 11-12; second at age 16

To get a copy of your child’s shot record, request (in person, by email or at this link) a Shot Record Release form from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). Complete the form and return it to ADH. Or, ask your doctor for a complete shot record.

FREE vaccines

If your child doesn’t have health insurance that pays for vaccines, the local ADH office will give them free (may charge $5 record fee). Call to schedule an appointment with the local health department office in your county.

If your child has no health insurance, call toll free 1-888-474-8275 to find out if your child is eligible for the free ARKids First health insurance program. Applications are also available at local Department of Human Services offices.

Vaccine exemptions

If you choose not to have a child vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, you must apply for an exemption from the ADH. Contact the ADH’s Immunization Section (501-537-3969 or email: immunization.section@arkansas.gov) for an application. Proof of exemption from the ADH is required every year before school starts. Doctors can no longer approve exemptions, only the ADH.

Needed for registration:

If your child is starting kindergarten this fall (or is new to Arkansas public schools), you must take these documents to your child’s registration:

  • Updated shot record or approved exemption
  • Copy of birth certificate – Call the ADH, Vital Records office at 800-637-9314 to get a copy (or passport or military ID card)
  • Social Security card – Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to get a card
  • Two current proofs of residence such as lease agreement, current utility bill in parent/guardian’s name (no cell phone bills) or personal property tax bill
  • Health history completed by parent/guardian; form supplied by school
  • Kindergarteners and students new to Arkansas public schools will need proof of a physical exam by a health care professional (well-child visit)

For more information about vaccines and exemption requirements read the ADH’s Frequently Asked Questions.