South West Georgia Public Health

Health Departments

Public Health observes Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, March 12-16

ALBANY – While the sting of a shot may last a second or two, diseases last much longer. That’s the message of Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, March 12-16, which reminds parents to talk with preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Preteens are at an age where they have new and booster vaccine recommendations,” said Rebecca Snow, Southwest Health District’s Immunization Coordinator. “Preteen vaccinations should begin at the age of 11, according to recommendations from the CDC. Parents should make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against preventable diseases.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), the following students are required to have proof of vaccinations protecting them against meningitis AND pertussis (also known as whooping cough):
• all students born on or after January 1, 2002
• students entering or transferring into seventh grade and
• any “new entrant” into eighth-12th grades in Georgia.
This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to, charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding homeschool).
Snow said many vaccine-preventable diseases can be serious, even deadly. Vaccines can help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control currently recommends Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for preteens and teens. The HPV vaccine is effective in preventing certain cancers as well as venereal warts.
“Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools, health care providers and the media regarding preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia’s pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students,” Snow said. “Speak with your physician or local health department today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date.”
For more information about preteen and teen immunizations, contact your county health department or your healthcare provider.

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Flu shots are now free in Southwest Health District 8-2 for those with an inability to pay. This policy is in place for the duration of the influenza season.