The month of August is about bringing awareness to immunizations, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants Georgians to think ahead and get vaccinations.

“Back to school season is one of the best times to prioritize vaccinating your family,” said Sheila Lovett, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “It’s critical that everyone, especially children and teens, get vaccinated, as it’s
the best defense we have against potentially deadly diseases.”
Before starting the 2020-2021 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. Meningitis can cause shock, coma and death within hours of the first symptoms. To help protect your children and others from meningitis, Georgia law requires students be vaccinated against this disease, unless the
child has an exemption.

Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before the 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.

Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox).

Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by age and medical condition. Vaccinations protect our families and communities; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems.

Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. Not only do vaccinations help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease, but they also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community. Adults should check with their healthcare provider for their current immunization recommendations, as well as parents to check for their children.

For the 2019–20 U.S. influenza season, providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine (IIV, recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV], or LAIV4).

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LAIV4 is an option for those for whom it is otherwise appropriate. No preference is expressed for any influenza vaccine product.

Talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get vaccinated today.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.