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Immunizations remain vital in back to school preparation


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Getting ready for the new school year does not only mean gathering supplies for the classroom and clothes to wear.

  Georgia law requires students to have thorough immunization and health certifications at various times in their academic lives, specifically before entering kindergarten and sixth grade. All students who are entering the Henry County School System for the first time at any grade level must meet immunization requirements.

  A student, regardless of grade level, who has never been in a Georgia public school must provide certification of eye, ear and dental examinations on the Georgia Department of Human Resources Form 3300. Any child admitted to school without a certificate must present one within 120 calendar days. Forms may be obtained and completed at the local public health departments or physician offices.

  Georgia law requires children attending kindergarten through 12th grade to be age-appropriately immunized with all the required vaccines at the time of first entry in school. A new entrant is a child entering a 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. All students, regardless of grade and including foreign exchange students, must have the Georgia Department of Human Resources Form 3231 immunization certificate marked “Complete for School.”

  There are certain situations in which an exemption can be obtained. Parents requesting a temporary waiver based on medical reasons may be asked to provide the school district with a certificate from the local board of health or treating physician certifying that immunization is undesirable. In the case of a medical exemption, the 3231 certificate must be reviewed annually and reissued.

  For religious exemptions, parents must furnish a signed and notarized statement showing that their religious beliefs conflict with immunization requirements. That statement functions in lieu of the 3231 and does not expire.

  In some cases involving new students, a waiver of 90 days can be issued by the superintendent or designee if there is documentation on file that an immunization sequence has been started and will be completed within the waiver period.

  Immunizations are required for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox). Protection against each of these diseases must be addressed on the form 3231. The form can be computer generated and if the child attends more than one school, an original or a photocopy of the form must be submitted to the second school.

  All currently enrolled children entering sixth grade must have two doses of measles vaccine, two doses of mumps vaccine, one dose of rubella vaccine, or laboratory proof of immunity against each of these three diseases. Also required are two doses of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine or documentation of disease or laboratory proof of immunity. Previously, only one dose of this vaccine was required.

  The Henry County School System does not provide any specific services for students and families unable to afford a doctor’s visit, but officials are aware that those situations can and do exist. They work with the Henry County Health Department to verify any families who visit their offices and require financial assistance with medical needs so the Health Department can possibly lower those costs.

  Most private schools in Henry County follow the same procedures as the public school district with regard to immunization requirements. Check with your private school to be sure of the exact requirements.



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