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Posted: May 31, 2014 10:00 p.m.

New student immunization requirements

Parents of rising seventh-graders in the Newton County School System (NCSS) should take note of changes to the state immunization requirements that go into effect in July.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, seventh-graders must have Tdap — tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – and MCV – meningococcal conjugate — vaccines prior to entering school.

This requirement has been revised to align with current recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Students will not receive class schedules unless they have these vaccines.

“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,” according to a letter from Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Georgia ranked 39th in Tdap rates and 22nd in meningococcal rates, according to data from the National Immunization Survey (NIS).

“We are optimistic that this reduction in disease rates will concomitantly reduce school absentee rates and thereby also improve students’ performance,” the letter said.

“Students’ achievement is often impacted by their lack of attendance, so anything that can be done to keep students healthy and safe from preventable infection is important,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey.

This new requirement also applies to new entrants to Georgia school grades eight through 12, any child entering any school in Georgia for the first time or entering after having been absent from a Georgia school for more than 12 months or one school year.

For more information or questions, parents should contact their child’s school nurse.

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