Preparing for school means gathering supplies and back packs. It’s also the perfect time to make sure children are up to date on their vaccines. Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.
Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations. Before your child goes back to school make sure he or she is protected.
Children ages four to six are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio.
Older children – like pre-teens and teens – need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MCV (meningococcal) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for all children six months and older.
New for the 2014-2015 academic year, Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2) requires all students born on or after Jan. 1, 2002 entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” entering into eighth-12th grades in Georgia provide proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MCV4). This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding home school).
To get your child vaccinated or if you have any questions about your child’s immunizations visit or call your local health department. The health department accepts Medicaid, PeachCare and state health benefit insurance. It also accepts most Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Aetna plans for vaccinations only. Children not covered by insurance may qualify for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program.
For more information about vaccinations or other public health services call the health department.