Most North Texas students go back to school in about a month, which is how long parents have to make sure their kids have all state-required vaccinations — or the right exemptions.

Most North Texas students go back to school in about a month, which is how long parents have to make sure their kids have all state-required vaccinations — or the right exemptions.


Students with neither will not be allowed to go to public or private schools or child care facilities. Even Texas colleges have vaccination rules.


None of the standards has changed for this year, but some requirements are different from grade to grade, with multiple doses required for some vaccines.


What diseases are students required to be vaccinated against?


Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), hepatitis A and B, varicella (chicken pox) and bacterial meningitis.


What’s the required schedule of vaccines?


Some of it is complicated. For instance, for the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine, a student entering grades kindergarten though sixth needs to have had five doses, with some exceptions. A seventh-grader needs a tetanus booster if five years have passed since the last vaccination. For grades eight through 12, a tetanus booster is needed if the gap has been at least 10 years.


And incoming college and university students are required to receive the MCV4 vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis.


The county health department and local pediatricians should have the chart available. And you can find it on the website of the Texas Department of State Health Services at dshs.state.tx.us.


Where can students get vaccinated?


While vaccines are available at doctors’ offices and other health care facilities, students who meet income requirements are eligible for free or reduced-cost vaccinations through the Texas Vaccines for Children program. More than 6,500 providers statewide offer the vaccines to children who are uninsured or underinsured,covered by CHIP, of American Indian or Native Alaskan heritage or on Medicaid.


The Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton health departments have immunization clinics listed on their websites.


Are there medical exceptions for getting vaccinated?


Students who have had measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A or B or varicella and whose parents can produce blood test results indicating immunity don’t need to get the vaccines. A note from a doctor, nurse or parent or guardian attesting that the student had chicken pox and when exempts the student from that vaccine.


Also, students who have physical conditions that make vaccinations harmful can get a letter from their doctor.


Are there other exemptions?


Texas law allows parents to claim an exemption for "reasons of conscience, including religious belief." Parents wanting to invoke that must file the appropriate forms with the state, either by mail or online.


How many students are not getting vaccinated over "reasons of conscience"?


According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, just under 8/10 of a percent of students fell in this category for the 2014-15 school year. That’s 40,997 students. For the 2007-08 school year, a bit over 2/10 of a percent of students were not immunized because of objections of conscience, or 10,404 students.


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