Nurse Rachel Christian of Bartow County Public Health said vaccines are required for all students who are entering the Georgia school system for the first time. These students are often kindergarteners, she added, or students who have moved in from out of state and are attending a Georgia school this year.
“Don’t wait until the school sends home a letter with their child saying if you don’t get them vaccinated they’re going to be suspended from school,” Christian said. “We recommend that as soon as the children are eligible to receive the vaccines that the parents go ahead and just come on in and not wait until the last minute to do it.”
By coming in as soon as possible, Christian added, parents will help reduce the number of last-minute vaccinations that can create bottlenecks in services before school starts.
However, first-time Georgia students are not the only group who have required vaccinations. Christian also explained middle schoolers are required to have certain vaccinations as well.
Middle school students, Christian said, need to have vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and Hepatitis B. A chickenpox vaccine is required as well if the child did not previously have chickenpox. Christian said a vaccination against Hepatitis A is only required for students born on or after Jan. 1, 2006.
Bartow County Public Health also has a number of optional vaccines on hand for eligibles middle schoolers.
“When these eligible children come in to see us, what we do is, we say here are the vaccines ... that are recommended for your child at this time,” Christian said. “Of those recommended vaccines these are the ones that are required to attend school in the state of Georgia.
“Then we let the parent make the choice regarding do they want the additional vaccines as well, or only the ones that are required. But we educate the parent about all the vaccines that are available to their child at that time.”
Optional vaccines include the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine, meningitis vaccine and human papillomavirus vaccine.
After having their child vaccinated, parents need to acquire the Form 3231 certificate of vaccination. The Form 3231, combined with the Form 3300 certificate of eye, ear and dental exams, are required for those students entering the Georgia school system for the first time.
“Sometimes parents will come in and they’ll get one or the other, not realizing they need both [forms] for their child to be able to attend school,” Christian said.
Christian also urged parents to call their children’s school if they have any concerns about either form being on file.
If parents are not able to pay for the necessary vaccines, Christian said the health department does not deny services. However, she added, the health department is not able to bill private insurance companies for vaccinations.
For further information on what vaccines are required for Georgia students, contact Bartow County Public Health at 770-382-1920.