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Back to school health guide: Do your kids need physicals or vaccines for the upcoming school year?
July 05, 2023
Young students raising their hands in the classroom

    Do your kids need physicals or vaccines for the upcoming school year?

    Summer just started, but it’ll feel like the blink of an eye before school is back in session. If your child needs a physical or immunizations for the upcoming school year, be sure to schedule an appointment soon before the back-to-school rush hits and time runs out.

    “Immunizations help students keep themselves and others healthy and in school,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wolf, pediatrician. “Summer appointments tend to fill up quickly. Be sure to schedule your appointment for immunizations, health physicals and school action plans today so your student doesn’t miss out on valuable learning time when the school year begins.”

    Breaking down back to school vaccinations in Virginia

    To attend public or private school in Virginia, students need to meet minimum immunization requirements or have a notarized certificate of religious exemption.

    Here’s what’s required at specific grade levels:


    Most children will already have all of these vaccines as part of the standard vaccine schedule but check with their pediatrician if you’re unsure.

    • 4 doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis – given to children under 7 years old)
    • 4 doses of polio
    • 2 doses of hepatitis A
    • 3 doses of hepatitis B
    • 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
    • 2 doses of varicella (chickenpox)

    7th grade

    • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – given to older children, adolescents and adults)
    • Meningococcal
    • HPV (Note: parents or guardians may opt for their child not to receive the HPV vaccine.)

    12th grade

    • Meningococcal

    We recommend that kids and teens remain up to date on their COVID vaccines and get this year’s flu shot when it becomes available too.

    School and sports physicals for Virginia students

    In addition to proof of immunization, kids need a physical exam within one year prior to starting kindergarten or their first time enrolling in elementary school. Students participating in school sports also need to have a sports physical and the associated form completed by a health care provider.

    School action plans for kids with health conditions

    If your child has asthma, diabetes or another condition that requires medication or care at school, summer is also the time to talk with their doctor about a school action plan for the coming year. Action plans keep kids safe by providing nurses and other school personnel with written information about their medical condition, instructions on what to do if specific symptoms occur at school and permission from a physician and parent/guardian to provide this treatment.

    Best wishes for a fun rest of the summer – and a safe and healthy school year ahead!

    The Richmond City Health District offers school physicals and immunizations.

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