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Posted: March 4, 2014 10:00 p.m.

State mandates new immunizations

The Georgia Department of Public Health has changed its immunization requirements for new students and sixth-graders enrolling in seventh grade, which will now require that students get Tdap – tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and MCV — meningococcal conjugate vaccines prior to entering school.

In a letter to state Superintendent John Barge, Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald with GDPH said that effective July 1, children born on or after Jan. 1, 2002, who will attend seventh grade and new entrants must have received one dose of the vaccine. Fitzgerald said new entrants are children entering any Georgia school for the first time or entering after having been absent from a Georgia school for more than 12 months or one school year

Students must be vaccinated by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

A news release from Sherri Davis-Viniard, NCSS Director of public relations, said seventh-graders will not receive their class schedules unless they have the vaccines. The release further states that parents or guardians with any questions should contact their school nurse.

Fitzgerald said Georgia’s immunization requirements for children attending seventh grade have been revised to align with the current recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"The addition of these new school requirements will lead to an increase in immunization coverage levels in Georgia and reduce disease not only in these populations, but throughout the state," Fitzgerald said in the letter. "Data from the National Immunization Survey ranked Georgia 39th in Tdap rates and 22nd in meningococcal rates. Implementation of these new requirements will increase vaccine coverage rates and protect Georgia children enrolled in school as well as family members and others in the community.

"We are optimistic that this reduction in disease rates will concomitantly reduce school absentee rates and thereby also improve students’ performance."

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