by Becky Frusher

Parents everywhere look forward to the start of the school year, but it also means kids will be bringing home an assortment of germs. Making sure your children are up to date on their vaccines is the best way to prevent serious illness. We’re sharing vaccination information — including tips to make shots less stressful — as well as six additional ways to help ensure your kids stay healthy and are ready to go back to school and daycare.

Idaho Falls pediatrician Dr. Joseph Moore shares the recommended immunization schedule for infants and toddlers, as well as pre-teens and adolescents. 

How to make shots less stressful.

Getting a shot is stressful for kids and parents alike. You can help take some of the sting out of your child’s vaccinations with a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  1. Ask for a sweet solution to help reduce pain response.If your child is two years old or younger, ask the pediatrician for a sweet solution of sucrose or glucose a minute or two before the shot. Even a tiny amount can help reduce pain.
  2. If you can, breastfeed, to calm, distract and provide comfort to baby.
  3. Ask for a pain-relieving ointment or spray to help block pain signals from the skin. Because the ointment takes time to work, ask about it in advance of the appointment.
  4. Be honest and calm and set expectations in simple terms. Explain to your child that they may feel a little pinch but it will go away very fast. Using words such as “pressure” or “poke” can make it seem less scary than words such as “pain” or “shot.”
  5. Bring your child’s favorite things for comfort, such as a toy, blanket or book.
  6. Distract your child right before the shot by singing a favorite tune, acting silly or making funny faces to draw attention away from the clinician.
  7. Older kids might appreciate taking a deep breath to help “blow out” the pain. Tell them to imagine the pain is leaving their mouth as they breathe out. You can also distract them by telling a story or pointing out interesting things in the room.

Childhood immunization schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following schedule for infants and children for the contagious diseases listed below. Some of the vaccinations are voluntary, while others are required by the state of Idaho for admission into schools and childcare facilities. Check with your pediatrician for immunization recommendations specific to your child.

  • COVID-19, 1 or more doses: beginning at 6 months or older
  • DTaP (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus),5 doses:at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years
  • Flu: 1 or 2 doses annually beginning at 6 months or older
  • Hepatitis A, 2 doses: at 12 months and 18-23 months
  • Hepatitis B, 3 doses: at birth before leaving the hospital, at 1-2 months and 6-18 months
  • Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b), 3-4 doses: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (depending on the brand) and 12-15 months
  • IPV (polio), 4 doses: at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months and 4-6 years
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), 2 doses: at 12-15 months and 4-6 years
  • PVC 13/PVC 15 (pneumococcal disease) 4 doses:at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12-15 months
  • RV (rotavirus), 2-3 doses: at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months (depending on the brand)
  • Varicella (chickenpox), 2 doses: at 12-15 months and 4-6 years

Immunizations for older kids and teens

The CDC recommends these additional shots for older kids and teenagers. Check with your pediatrician to see which of these vaccinations makes sense for your tweens and teens.

  • HPV (human papillomavirus), 2-3 doses: typically at 11-12 years but may begin as young as 9; number of shots depends on age and personal health history
  • MenACWY (meningitis A,C,W & Y) 2 doses: at 11-12 years and 16 years
  • MenB (meningitis B) 1 dose: at 16-18 years if at increased risk or if recommended by your doctor
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), 1 dose: at 11-12 years; this booster shot picks up when protection from the DTaP begins to wear off

Six healthy habits for going back to school

These six healthy habits can help make sure kids are at their best when learning, playing and growing:

  • Encourage frequent handwashing
  • Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (or their elbow)
  • Create a consistent sleep/wake schedule
  • Keep sick kids at home
  • Pack healthy lunches and snacks and plenty of water
  • Keep tabs on their moods and stress levels and check in with them if something seems off

Not sure if your child is too sick for school? Call our Pediatric Consult-A-Nurse line at:

(208) 497-6167

EIRMC offers specialized, expert pediatric emergency care in Eastern Idaho.