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Southwest Georgia public health officials encouraging early vaccinations

New recommendations in effect for school-aged children

ALBANY — Southwest Public Health District officials are encouraging parents and guardians to take advantage of flexible summer schedules to get state-required vaccinations for their children now – and avoid the hassle and time-consuming delays that sometimes occur when the back-to-school rush begins.

“The State of Georgia has specific immunization requirements for children entering schools and daycare facilities,” said Rebecca Snow, district immunization coordinator for health district, in a news release. “The vaccinations are for the protection of your children, other family members, classmates and staff they come into contact with and the community at large.”

Beginning July 1, all children born on or after January 1, 2002 who are attending seventh grade, and students who are newly enrolled in Georgia schools in grades eight through 12, must have received one dose of Tdap vaccine and one dose of adolescent meningococcal (meningitis) disease vaccine, area public health officials say. The recommendations also call for a three-doses series of the human papillomavirus for children ages 11-12, and for a meningococcal booster at around 16 years of age, the Georgia Department of Public Health immunization website shows.

At around the time a child will start kindergarten, at 4-6 years of age, the recommendations call for a child to have his or her fifth dose of the Dtap vaccine, the fourth dose of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine and their second doses of the measles, mumps and rubella and the varicella vaccines.

“Vaccinations can be administered by your county health department or by your private healthcare provider,” Snow said. “The important thing to know is that vaccinations are considered to be the most successful and cost-effective public health tools parents can use to help protect their children against dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, whooping cough and pneumonia.”

“Don’t wait until the last minute to get your child vaccinated. Take care of it now so that you will have your immunization records in order and one less thing to worry about when classes start. Your county health department will be happy to assist you if you have questions and to help ensure your child’s immunization records are up-to-date.”

Those seeking more information on age-specific vaccines are encourage to visit to the DPH immunization web site at http://dph.georgia.gov/schools-and-childcare.