August 31, 2016

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936

               Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391


Put immunizations on back-to-school list

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reminds parents to be aware of the Montana school immunization requirements, as the 2016-2017 school year is beginning Parents are encouraged to review their children’s immunization record to ensure they are up-to-date for the upcoming school year.

“Back to school vaccinations help protect children, families and school staff from vaccine preventable diseases”, said Bekki Wehner, DPHHS Immunization Program Manager. “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your healthcare provider to find out what vaccines your child needs.”

Children entering or attending kindergarten through grade 12 are required to have two doses of measles, mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, three doses of polio vaccine and four doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. Students in 7th – 12th grades are also required to have one dose of tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

Wehner said as long as a student has received at least one vaccine in the required series, that student may qualify for a conditional attendance as allowed by current regulations. A conditional attendance provision allows the student to stay in school while they finish the required shots.

In 2015, Montana added varicella and Tdap to the list of shots required for school. Since then, Montana has shown improvement on adolescent immunization rates. Tdap coverage has increased from 84.7% in 2014 to 89.5% in 2015. Varicella coverage rates in adolescents also increased from 62.4% to 73.3%, according to 2015 National Immunization Survey data.

In addition to vaccines required for school, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Meningococcal (MCV) vaccines are recommended for all teens and the annual influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. DPHHS encourages parents to talk to their family physician or local health department should they have questions if their child is up-to-date on all recommended vaccines.

All children in Montana are eligible to receive low or no cost vaccines through their health plan or the Vaccines for Children Program. More information visit