Under a new state rule, effective July 1, all students entering the 11th grade require proof of a booster dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) unless they received their first dose on or after their 16th birthday.

 

“Incoming high school juniors who turn 16 before the start of next school year can get meningitis booster shots and certificates of immunization from their pediatrician or their local health department,” says Mary Ann Long, district immunization coordinator for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District.

“Incoming juniors who are not yet 16 should wait until their 16th birthday to get the booster dose,” Long advises. “The booster is in addition to the one required for students entering seventh grade.”

According to Long, some children may be eligible for shots through the federal Vaccines for Children program, which charges only an administration fee, and families who are unable to pay the fee can request financial assistance.

Georgia law requires the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for students unless they have a documented exemption. The vaccine protects against meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord that can be fatal.

 

Long recommends that parents ask their pediatrician or local health department about other shots their child may need including:

 

  • the human papillomavirus (HPV) series;
  • the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis shot (Tdap or Td booster;
  • an annual flu vaccine; and
  • catch-up immunizations, including chickenpox, MMR

(measles, mumps, rubella) and hepatitis B.

 

For more information about child and adolescent immunizations, including the new requirement for a meningitis booster, go to

Child and Adolescent Immunizations | Georgia Department of Public Health