Keep Your Children’s Vaccinations Up to Date

Serious and sometimes deadly diseases can be prevented by getting children immunized. The summer can be an optimal time to schedule immunizations for your children before other activities interfere and the traditional back-to-school rush to get shots.

Alabama state law requires all children to present an up-to-date Certificate of Immunization (COI) upon entrance to childcare centers and schools. 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 not only are at risk of disease but can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and communities. In 2023, Alabama Department of Public Health staff investigated and confirmed 737 vaccine-preventable disease cases.

Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to the spread of preventable diseases. Vaccines help the immune system, and that provides protection from serious diseases such as measles. A child’s immune system is more vulnerable without vaccinations. Vaccines protect the people who receive them, children too young to be vaccinated, persons with medical conditions preventing vaccination, and those persons 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 vaccines.
  • All children 6 months and older need annual influenza vaccines. Every year children still die as a result of having the flu.

Your child’s healthcare provider or local county health department can inform you about what vaccines are required according to age. Parents can learn more about the immunizations children need at ADPH's Immunization Division.

To obtain an immunization record or COI, please contact your healthcare provider or the health department which administered your vaccines to locate records on Alabama’s immunization registry, called ImmPRINT. The ImmPRINT system maintains records of more than 85 million doses provided to more than 7.2 million patients of all ages.

A parent or legal guardian must submit a written statement to receive a Certificate of Religious Exemption; however, this certificate is solely for entry to kindergarten through 12th grade students -- not for entry to institutions of higher learning.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services lists the following simple reasons to be vaccinated:

  • 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 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

To help keep your family and community healthy and safe, keep your children up to date with their vaccines and fully immunize your children.

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