Back to School – Time for Immunizations

The new school year has begun for most of metro-Atlanta, which we all know comes with countless to do lists.  Back to school shopping may be ending, but something parents should place high on the priority list is making sure students are up to date on immunizations.

Georgia law requires all students entering kindergarten through seventh grade to provide proof of immunization. Not only for students local to the Georgia area, but also for transfer students. Specifically, the law applies to those who are entering a local school for the first time or returning to school after being gone for a year or longer.

For students in kindergarten through sixth grade, vaccinations against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, tetanus, mumps, chickenpox and measles are required.

Students in seventh grade and up are required to have additional vaccinations against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, as well as the meningitis vaccine. Although they are not required, flu shots are also recommended.

Why are immunization requirements so strict in Georgia schools?

Essentially, because of the close proximity of so many young students to each other leads to the perfect breeding ground for contagions and disease. School systems are attempting to provide the most protection possible for those children and young adults.

The state of Georgia’s Department of Public Health is in charge of carrying out such laws, and each school has 30 days to comply before audits are implemented. Schools that are not 100% compliant can face serious consequences.

Are there any exceptions to immunization requirements?

Exemptions can be granted to students who have religious or medical reasons not to comply with immunization requirements, but the overall safety of all students is the school’s main priority.

2018 has been a year of a high number of contagious illnesses, and schools are often times heavily impacted by such spreadable viruses. So, while you’re prepping for the new school year buying backpacks and supplies, it’s important to also ensure sure your child is properly immunized to help keep them, and their classmates, safe this school year.