Another school year will soon begin for many students in Tennessee and now is the time to make sure they receive the required immunizations for school attendance.
‘’Vaccines are critical protection for our own children and help keep other kids around them safe from many diseases,’’ said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “The measles outbreak we just emerged from in Memphis should serve as a vivid wake-up call and remind us how lucky we are to have vaccines that protect us. Please make sure you and yours have the vaccines you need.”
In Tennessee, children enrolling in school for the first time and all children going into seventh grade must provide schools with a state immunization certificate before classes start as proof they have had all the immunizations necessary to protect them and their classmates from serious vaccine-preventable diseases.
‘’Immunizations will keep children from getting sick and spreading infections to other students, so it’s very important that each child receives the required and recommended vaccinations now for a healthy start to the school year,’’ said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, director of the Tennessee Immunization Program.’’
Requirements for school vaccinations in Tennessee:
• Kindergarteners and other children enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time must provide schools with a complete Official Tennessee Immunization Certificate before classes begin. The certificate must be signed by a qualified healthcare provider or verified by the state’s Immunization Information System.
• All current students entering seventh grade are required to give the school a limited Official Tennessee Immunization Certificate showing they have had a second dose of chickenpox vaccine (or a history of the illness) and a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The HPV cancer vaccine and first meningococcal meningitis vaccine are also recommended, but not required for school, for this age group.
• Incoming college students in Tennessee public colleges who will live in on-campus housing must provide proof of immunization against meningococcal meningitis after age 16. Most private colleges also have requirements for this vaccine and some schools require it of all new students. Check with your college for details.
‘’The HPV vaccine is one of the recommended vaccines and we strongly urge girls and boys to get this vaccine because it’s an important part of lifetime cancer prevention,” said Dr. Moore. “ The HPV vaccine is proven safe, effective and long-lasting.” Immunizations required for school are readily available from most healthcare providers across the state, including county health departments. Children younger than age 19 may be eligible for free vaccine if they have no insurance, are enrolled in TennCare, have private insurance that does not cover vaccines or are American Indian or Alaska Native.