Beat the back to school rush!

Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County (GNR) Health Departments encourage parents to bring their children and teenagers for early vaccinations to protect themselves against disease.

Every year, the Health Department gears up for a back-to-school, immunizations extravaganza. We like to call it Back-to-School Rush. The time for back-to-school immunizations demonstrates the true essence of public health at work, that is, the Health Department working closely with school, government, and community partners to make sure that our communities are protected. The Gwinnett County Public School system is the largest school system in Georgia with 143 schools and an estimated enrollment of almost 180,000 students. Due to the large volume of students in the county, the Health Department works collaboratively with the school system to educate parents about the vaccines required to attend public school. All school-required immunizations are available at all Health Department locations.

GEORGIA LAW
Georgia law states no child can be admitted to or attend any school or facility in this state unless the child has submitted a certificate of immunization to the responsible official of the school or facility. The Health Department will document all new immunizations on the Georgia Certificate of Immunization, Form 3231, as required by the school system, or can transfer previous immunizations to the form for a small fee.

VACCINE REQUIREMENTS
Effective July 1, 2014, for entrance into Georgia public school, grades kindergarten through 12, students must have a total of two doses of measles vaccine, two doses of mumps vaccine, one dose of rubella vaccine and a total of two doses of varicella vaccine. If the child does not meet Georgia requirements, the Health Departments can vaccinate your child with the needed immunization.

Our website has locations and hours of operation of the health centers. For immunizations we accept cash, credit cards (except American Express), Medicaid, Peachcare, Aetna, and BlueCross BlueShield.

Here is a list of all the immunizations required by law that can protect against 12 diseases:

*DTaP – Diptheria
*DTap – Tetanus
Hib – Haemophilus influenza type B
HepA – Hepatitis A
(HepB) – Hepatitis B
**MMR – Measles
**MMR – Mumps
**MMR – Rubella
*DTap – Pertussis
PCV13 – Pneumococcal
IPV – Poliomyelitis
Chicken pox – Varicella

* DTaP combines protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

** MMR combines protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.

IMPORTANCE OF VACCINE SCHEDULE
The Health Department encourages parents to bring their children to the health centers early in the summer to beat the back-to-school rush, which usually starts in late July or August. The timing of vaccination before school starts is important so that children, teenagers, and young adults can not only protect themselves against life threatening illnesses but it can also prevent delay in school attendance and school participation.

The Health Departments offer every vaccine listed on the current vaccine schedule. It’s important for children to be vaccinated at certain ages because researchers and scientists have determined that the ages displayed on the schedule are the specific times when the body’s immune system will provide optimal protection against disease after vaccination. There is no research to show that a child would be equally protected against diseases with a different schedule.

KINDERGARTEN
Every child entering into the Georgia school system (Kindergarten – 12th grade), or a child care facility is required by law to be protected against 12 diseases. Students must have a Georgia Certificate of Immunization, Form 3231. The Health Department will document all new immunizations on this form or can transfer previous immunizations on the form for a small fee.

7th GRADE BACK TO SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
All students born on or after January 1, 2002, and entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade in Georgia needs proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) and an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (“MCV4”). The HPV, chickenpox, and influenza vaccines are also recommended for preteens and teens.

COLLEGE
Living in student dormitories can put college students at higher risk for spreading disease. Students, especially, living in residence halls should be vaccinated with the meningococcal conjugate (meningitis) vaccine. If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, a booster dose is recommended before going to college for maximum protection.

TEAM PLAYERS AT THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Months of preparation are devoted to ensure that plenty of staff members, resources, and support are available to operate the clinics efficiently during the high volume time. Efforts across the different programs of the Health Department provide optimal service to our clients. Employees from emergency preparedness, WIC, epidemiology, and women’s health programs volunteer their time to assist staff at our three Gwinnett-based health centers in Lawrenceville, Norcross, and Buford. Information on immunizations, school screenings, and school requirements are shared with the general public, community partners, and our staff before the back-to-school rush to increase awareness of school immunizations. To learn more visit www.gnrhealth.com.

 

For information about the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, please contact Keith Fenton, Chief Operating Officer, at 770-995-3339 or keith@gwinnettcoalition.org.