Childhood Immunizations Protect Against Serious Disease

Parents want the best for their children and getting vaccinated is important in providing protection from serious and sometimes deadly diseases which can be prevented by childhood immunizations.

The summer is a great time to get ahead of the crowd seeking shots before the back-to-school rush to get vaccinations. Alabama state law requires all children to present an up-to-date Certificate of Immunization (COI) upon entrance to childcare centers and school. Parents are key in ensuring their children are vaccinated according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Schedule, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Vaccines protect against 16 serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at risk of disease and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and communities.

Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to the spread of preventable diseases. Vaccine protects the people who receive the vaccine, as well as children too young to be vaccinated, persons with medical conditions preventing vaccination, and those who do not respond to the vaccine.

  • Childcare-age children need vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and pneumococcal disease.
  • Children entering school need booster doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio vaccines.
  • Preteens and teenagers need tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, human papillomavirus, and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.
  • All children 6 months and older need annual flu vaccines.

Please check with your child’s healthcare provider or local county health department to find out what vaccines are required according to their age. Parents can learn more about the immunizations children need at

If you need an immunization record or COI, please contact your healthcare provider or the health department which administered your vaccines to locate your record on Alabama’s immunization registry, ImmPRINT. A Certificate of Religious Exemption can only be issued by a county health department and is solely for entry to kindergarten through 12th grade students -- not for entry to institutions of higher learning. The parent or legal guardian must submit a written objection and receive education on the consequences of not immunizing their child to receive this certificate.

There are many reasons to have your child vaccinated, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services lists the following:

  • Immunizations can save your child’s life.
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective.
  • Immunization protects others you care about.
  • Immunizations can save your family time and money.
  • Immunization protects future generations.

(See full explanations at

While COVID-19 vaccine is not required in the childhood vaccination schedule, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for children ages 5 years and older when they are eligible. Serious reactions to vaccine in children and teenagers are rare, and COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and free. Children and teens who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. As with all vaccines, children are better protected when they stay up to date with the recommended vaccine schedule. To help keep them and your community safe, fully immunize your children.

Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H.
State Health Officer