Vaccinations for rising 7th- and 11th-graders

As parents of Jackson County School System students make plans for things to do over the summer, JCSS lead regional nurse Ronda Brewer in encouraging them to add vaccinations to the list.

Before starting seventh grade, all students born on or after January 1, 2002, and entering or transferring into seventh grade will need proof of a whooping cough booster shot and a meningococcal shot unless the child has an exemption on file with the school, Brewer pointed out.

“To help protect your children and others from whooping cough and meningitis, Georgia Code (OCGA 20-2-771) requires students to be vaccinated against both diseases before entering the seventh grade,” she said.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that can easily spread causing severe coughing fits and missed days of school. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord in the form of meningitis, and the bloodstream in the form of septicemia. It can cause shock, coma, and death within hours of the first symptoms.

And, effective July 1, 2020, children 16 years of age and older who are entering the 11th grade (including new entrants) must have received one booster dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine unless their initial dose was administered on or after their 16th birthday.

Getting Tdap (the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis shot) and MCV4 (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) now will not only help protect children against the ongoing threat of whooping cough and meningitis but will also meet the school entry requirement.

Brewer said parents can ask their pediatrician or local health department about other shots their child may need including the human papillomavirus (HPV) three-shot series, an annual flu vaccine, and catch-up immunizations, including chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and hepatitis B.

Proof of vaccinations must be documented on the Georgia Immunization Certificate (Form 3231).

Brewer said children without health insurance or whose health plan does not cover these vaccines can call the Jackson County Health Department and ask about getting no-cost or low-cost vaccines. Reach the Jefferson location by calling 706-367-5204 or the Commerce location at 706-335-3895.

For more information, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/vaccines-children or call toll-free 800-848-3868. Click here for a one-page information sheet for seventh-graders; click here for the sheet for 11th-graders.

JCSS serves approximately 8,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students and 1,200 staff in 10 schools across Jackson County.