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Student Vaccine Requirements in Texas: What You Need to Know

Student Vaccine Requirements in Texas

With school on the horizon, it’s important for students and parents to stay up to date on the latest vaccine requirements in Texas. 

In this article, we are going to cover the required immunizations for Texas students in 2021/22 based on their grade and education level. Afterwards, we will address some of the most common vaccine-related topics, including exemptions and vaccine effectiveness.

Required Vaccines for Texas Students K-12 

Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis

Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccines protect against serious bacterial diseases. These vaccines are available in a variety of types (DTaP, DT, Tdap, and Td) and can be administered to children, adolescents, or adults depending on the type. 

For a short explanation of each disease, see below:

Diphtheria creates a thick, membrane-like covering in the back of the throat, which can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and other serious health problems. 

Tetanus, also known as “lockjaw,” causes painful tightening of the muscles all around the body, including those around the jaw, making it difficult to open your mouth and swallow.

Pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that can lead to serious health problems, particularly in infants. Because it initially resembles a common cold, pertussis can be especially dangerous.

Minimum Dosage Requirements:

K-6th Grade

  • Five total doses – with at least one dose having been taken on or after the fourth birthday; four total doses are also acceptable if the fourth dose was received on or after the fourth birthday.
  • For students aged seven years and older, they only need to receive three doses if one dose was received on or after their fourth birthday.

7th Grade

  • One booster dose when five or more years have passed since the last dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine.

8th-12th Grade

  • One booster dose when ten years have passed since the last dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine.

(Source)

Polio

The polio vaccine is used to prevent poliomyelitis, a dangerous disease that affects the spinal cord and causes paralysis. Once a common disease, polio has declined sharply (over 99% in fact) since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) began recording cases in 1988. 

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

K-12th Grade

  • Four doses, one of which must be received on or after the fourth birthday, but three doses also meet the requirement if the third one was received on or after the fourth birthday.

(Source)

Measles, Mumps, & Rubella 

The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that provides protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. 

For a brief explanation of each, see below:

Measles is a highly contagious disease (characterized by a severe rash) caused by a virus which spreads most commonly through direct contact and the air. The virus first infects the respiratory tract and then spreads to other parts of the body.

Mumps is a viral infection that affects the salivary glands (located near the ears and mouth). Mumps sometimes cause health complications, such as inflammation and hearing loss, especially in adults. 

Rubella is a contagious viral infection that occurs most commonly in children and young adults. Characterized by fever and rash, health problems are typically mild. However, infection during pregnancy can have serious health implications for the mother and child, including miscarraige and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). 

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

K-12th Grade

  • Two doses, with the first one received on or after the first birthday. Students vaccinated prior to 2009 with two doses of measles and one dose each of rubella and mumps also meet the requirement. 

(Source)

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease affecting the liver that can cause serious health problems such as chronic infection, liver scarring, liver cancer, and more. There are five types of viral hepatitis, but all include inflammation of the liver. 

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

K-12th Grade:

  • Two doses for students aged eleven through fifteen if the adult version of the vaccine, Recombivax®, is taken. Otherwise, three doses is the minimum requirement.

(Source)

Varicella (Chickenpox)

Varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, is a highly contagious disease that causes severe rashes and blisters across the entire body. 

In the early 1900s, chickenpox affected around four million people each year. But since the varicella vaccine was created, it has prevented over 3.5 million cases in the United States each year.

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

K-12th Grade:

  • Two doses; the first dose must be received on or after the first birthday.

(Source)

Meningococcal 

Meningococcal disease refers to illnesses caused by the neisseria meningitidis bacteria, also known as meningococcus. Some of the most common types of illnesses that stem from this bacteria include meningitis (an infection of the brain and/or spinal cord) and blood infections like bacteremia or septicemia. 

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

7th-12th Grade:

Hepatitis A

A milder type of liver infection, hepatitis A is most commonly spread through contaminated water or food (as opposed to hepatitis B, which is transmitted through blood). 

Individuals who contract the virus typically recover fully in several weeks, while hepatitis B can lead to lifelong complications. However, both types of infections are serious and can be prevented through vaccines.

Minimum Dosage Requirement:

K-12th Grade:

  • Two total doses, the first being administered on or after the first birthday.

Note: As of the time this article was written, Texas does not require students in grades K-12 to receive COVID-19 vaccines. 

Required Vaccines for Texas College Students

 

Since Texas students meet the majority of their vaccine requirements in grades kindergarten through twelve, there is only one vaccine requirement for admittance into an institution of higher education: the meningococcal vaccine. 

All entering students, whether first-year students or transfer students, must show proof of an initial meningococcal vaccine or a booster dose within five years prior to their enrollment. If you have not received the vaccine in this allotted time frame, you must do so at least ten days before the semester begins. 

For more information on the meningococcal vaccine requirement, including exemptions and exceptions, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website.

Although Texas does not currently require students at public institutions to receive COVID-19 vaccines, some private colleges do. As of now, these colleges include:

  • Paul Quinn College
  • Rice University
  • St. Edward’s University

Need a COVID-19 vaccine? Click here to schedule an appointment at Community Pharmacy.

Common Vaccine Related Questions

 

Where can students receive their necessary vaccines? 

Many individuals receive their necessary vaccines through their primary care physician. However, this is not the only option. 

If scheduling a doctor’s appointment does not fit with your schedule, or if you simply want another option, you can also receive vaccines at some pharmacies. 

At Community Pharmacy, we offer all the required student vaccinations mentioned in this article at five convenient locations throughout North Texas. To learn more about us, or to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit our website

What is the difference between “vaccination” and “immunization”?

Although these two terms have similar meanings, they do differ slightly. A vaccination describes the process of administering a vaccine. An immunization, on the other hand, describes the state of becoming immune to a given disease via a vaccine.

Because immunization does not happen immediately after a vaccine is administered, it is important to understand the distinction between the two terms. 

For example, a meningococcal vaccination is required of college students within ten days of the first semester so that they can become immune by the time classes start. 

Are student vaccination requirements the same for every state?

No. Each state sets their own vaccination requirements for students. Although all states require many of the same vaccinations (usually the ones listed in this article), some require additional ones. 

For example, as of now, Massachusetts is the first and only state to require the flu vaccine in schools; and only Connecticut, North Carolina, and Wyoming require the Hib vaccine

For more information on how vaccination requirements differ by state, click here.

Are there exemptions for school vaccinations?

Yes. Exemptions differ from state to state, but all states allow exemptions based on medical reasons. 44 states plus Washington D.C. grant religious exemptions, and fifteen states allow philosophical exemptions for children whose parents conscientiously object to vaccines. 

In Texas, students can gain exemptions from immunizations based on medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. 

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, these exemptions allow “(a) physicians to write medical exemption statements which clearly state a medical reason exists and the person cannot receive specific vaccines, and (b) parents/guardians to choose an exemption from immunization requirements for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief.” 

Are vaccines effective?

Yes! According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines currently prevent four to five million deaths per year. Different vaccines have different levels of effectiveness based on the disease or virus they are meant to prevent, but effectiveness is high on the whole.

For example, flu and influenza vaccine effectiveness varies year by year, but they typically reduce your risk by 50-60% on average. The effectiveness of almost all other vaccines hovers between 80-99% on average depending on the vaccine. 

Ready to schedule your next vaccination? Visit communitypharmacy.com.  

 

About Community Pharmacy

Community Pharmacy is a locally and family owned pharmacy that has been serving Texas since 1982. With locations in Denton, Corinth, Lewisville, and Flower Mound, we strive to provide an effortless pharmacy experience that patients can look forward to. Our caring and knowledgeable staff is committed to providing the highest quality service with integrity and compassion to meet the needs of those we serve.

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