VALDOSTA – Before starting the 2021-2022 school year, all students entering or transferring into 11th grade will need proof of a meningococcal booster shot (MCV4), unless their first dose was received on or after their 16th birthday.
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord. It is spread through saliva and can be contracted by sharing food, drinks or makeup, kissing, sneezing and coughing. Meningitis can cause shock, coma and death within hours of the first symptoms.
MCV4 or meningococcal conjugate vaccine, is a two-dose booster shot. It helps protect against four types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease (serogroups A, C, W and Y). While most people who get the vaccine do not have any serious side effects it is always a possibility. The most common side effects include redness or pain where the shot was given and occasionally a fever. These side effects typically go away within 1-2 days.
“The new MCV4 requirement was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, however it is important that everyone understand it is extremely important, especially in a school setting. Meningococcal disease might be rare, but it is extremely dangerous,” said Reomona Thomas, RN, Immunization Program Coordinator for South Health District. “Following the recommended and required vaccination schedules for school aged children is the easiest step that parents can take to protect their children from vaccine preventable diseases.”
Also, all students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering or transferring into 7th grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster immunization (called “Tdap”). Proof of a Tdap immunization must be documented on the Georgia immunization certificate (Form 3231).
Ask your pediatrician or local health department about other shots your child may need including:
• the human papillomavirus (HPV) series
• the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis shot (Tdap or Td booster)
• an annual flu vaccine; and
• catch-up immunizations, including chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and hepatitis B.
A full immunization guide is available on the Georgia Department of Education’s website www.gadoe.org.
Parents can visit the health department or their child’s physician to receive a full list of their required vaccines. For a list of health departments in our area visit https://www.southhealthdistrict.com/county-health-departments/.
If your child does not have health insurance or their health plan won’t cover these vaccines, call your local health department and ask about getting no cost or low cost vaccines. For more information, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/vaccines-children or call your local health department.