The purchase of new clothes and new school supplies is not the only way families should prepare for the start of the school year on Aug. 11.
Parents also need to make sure that their children's immunizations are up to date.
To help, the Columbia County Health Department is holding walk-in immunization clinics at its three locations through Aug. 8. The clinics will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
There have been no changes in the immunization requirements in Georgia this year.
However, Dr. Dennis Murray, the chief of pediatric infectious disease and associate medical director of the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center, said every child needs the Georgia Department of Human Resources Form 3231 immunization certificate marked "Complete for School." He also emphasized the importance of immunizations for schoolchildren.
"School is where a lot of kids congregate," he said.
In addition, Murray said, "Some of these diseases that people think we don't have anymore are simply a plane ride away."
Germany and Japan are leading sources of measles that are brought into the United States, he said.
Phyllis Roland, the county nurse manager, said schoolchildren also must have Form 3300, a certificate of eye, ear and dental examinations, to enter a Georgia school. This requirement also applies to children who are entering kindergarten ,even though they attended pre-kindergarten, because it is not considered entry to school in Georgia, Roland said.
He also recommended that parents who are bringing their children to one of the offices for the first time drop off a copy of their immunization records beforehand.
This will enable staff members to enter the records into the system and to determine a child's needs.
Required immunizations for all children include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox).
For more information, log on to http://health.state/ga.us/programs/immunization.
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