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Children getting immunized first week of school

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

marauz@news-daily.com

Children and youths in Clayton County can still get immunized.

The Clayton County Board of Health will continue to host its "Back to School Immunization Drive" until Friday, Aug. 12, said Dr. Alpha Fowler Bryan, Clayton County district health director.

Parents can take advantage of the special hours, to bring their children -- from 7:30 a.m., to 4 p.m., until Thursday, Aug. 11; and then, from 8 a.m., to 3 p.m., until Friday -- at 1117 Battlecreek Road, Jonesboro.

"It's a state requirement for school-aged children to be properly vaccinated, but it's also a health concern," added Joel Hall, public information officer for the Clayton County Board of Health.

A portion of Georgia's immunization plan requires children entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and sixth-grade to receive certain vaccinations, said Hall. Youths, ages 14 and 15, must also receive booster shots, he said.

Parents who want their child vaccinated must bring certain documentation, including their youngster's shot record, correct address information and proof of health insurance, or Medicaid, he said.

The cost of immunization depends on the parent's health insurance, though vaccinations may be fully covered by the insurance provider, he explained. For children entering Clayton County Public Schools for the first time, a hearing, vision and dental screening will also be required. The service will cost $25, or Medicaid will cover the fee, he said.

The spokesman said children get most illnesses while at school. If not vaccinated, diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella can be contracted and can be deadly. "In any environment with a lot of people in tight quarters, you run the risk of coming down with something," he said.

The vaccines can be life-saving, and vary depending on the age of the youngster, he explained. The shots typically prevent diseases such as polio, hepatitis and tetanus.

"Typically, children cannot be excused from immunizations in Georgia, unless it is for medical reasons, such as cancer or a suppressed immune system," he said.

Parents must get a medical waiver from their primary care physician, if they want their child to attend public schools without vaccinations, said Hall.

Hall said the Board of Health has hosted this immunization drive for students for the last few years, and this year's effort has been a huge success, thus far.

The drive began on July 18, and the Board of Health has vaccinated an average of 85, to 100 children a day, he said. The response to the drive has been better than in years past, due to partnerships with county agencies, such as the Clayton County Board of Commissioners and Clayton County Public Schools.

Marketing efforts also assisted in the success of the drive, including the use of social media and bilingual advertising, he explained. "We want to make getting their children vaccinated as convenient as possible for parents, because schools are really starting to crack down on unvaccinated children," added Hall.