The state of Georgia requires that all children who begin school get vaccinated. These immunizations are required for not only the health of your child but also for the health of their classmates and the community as a whole. Here's what you need to get your children vaccinated for before school starts.
Vaccination Requirements for Georgia
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, children need to be immunized against 12 known vaccine preventable diseases:
- Pertussis, also known as whooping cough
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella zoster, also known as chickenpox
- Hepatitis A
Fortunately, a family physician will also have a list of these vaccinations and the proper paperwork that all Atlanta schools will accept, including the state mandated 3231 immunization form.
Other rules per DPH
There are several rules stated by the Department of Public Health for new and current residents of the state.
1. A new entrant, meaning a child entering a school or facility in Georgia for the first time or after being away from Georgia for more than 12 months, must provide an accurate and valid certificate of immunizations. Depending on circumstances, the school or facility may grant 30 day admittance for a child lacking vaccination information until proper documentation is provided. The good news is that if your child transfers to a different school within the state, paperwork and documentation are often transferred within the school system.
2. If your child was vaccinated outside the State of Georgia, written proof and documentation is required by the school and facility by an authorized representative of the health authority. This should include the name and type of the vaccine, dosage, and the date given.
3. If your child is still in the process of receiving immunizations because of age, the certificate must include an expiration date and when the next dose is due. Then, a new certificate must be presented to the school or facility in the 30 days post expiration date or your child could be taken out of school.
Not required but recommended
The following vaccines are not required by Georgia but highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection:
The common flu vaccine is not required but highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for children older than six months old to adults. They state that the flu shot or nasal spray should be given once a year. Consult your family physician with any concerns you may have. Your doctor will share the latest news and research to help allay some fears about the vaccine.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine
The HPV vaccine is not required but also highly recommended. The HPV virus is attributed to causing cervical cancer, lesser known genital cancers and genital warts. An HPV vaccination is recommended for boys and girls between the age of 11 and 12, but can also be given at the age of nine. It can also be given at the age of 13 through 26 if it was not given earlier.
The rotavirus is a virus that causes the stomach and intestines in babies and young children to become inflamed, producing severe vomiting, diarrhea and fevers. This leads to acute dehydration and oftentimes death.
Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream or the lining of the spinal cord and brain. Babies and young children are most at risk.
Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Booster shots are often recommended as children get older because some doses wear off as time progresses. A combined booster for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, called Tdap, is advised for older children, young adults and adults around younger children.
In the event of an epidemic
In the unfortunate event of an epidemic or threat of an epidemic, the Department of Human Resources or the Board of Health will notify all schools and facilities in the affected area. The health authority may require immunization from those students who are exempt on the basis of religious beliefs or may prohibit the attendance of non-vaccinated children at the school and facility.
Exemption from required immunizations
Medical and religious exemptions of vaccines are permitted. All exemption waivers must be notarized and should be discussed with your child's school counselor and family physician for proper procedures.
Be sure to check with your family physician for clarification and updates this year as needed.