Health Department offers free immunization to seventh graders

The 15 Health Departments in the East Tennessee Region will be offering special clinics to provide free immunizations to seventh graders during the month of August. All children entering the seventh grade this fall must submit proof of a booster dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine; and confirm either chickenpox immunity through the disease or receipt of two doses of the varicella vaccine.

For the first time in a decade, Tennessee has adopted new childhood immunization requirements to better protect children from serious diseases, especially those that can spread easily in a school setting. “Vaccinations have all but eliminated the threat of diseases like mumps and measles. Unfortunately, we still see Tennessee children suffer and die unnecessarily when they are not properly immunized,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “These new requirements assure that children have the best protection from serious illnesses that are easily passed from person to person in schools.”

Because all new seventh graders will need a new Immunization Certificate, public schools are allowing a one-time grace period of Oct. 1 to submit the new form, according to the State Department of Education. If a child has already received the required vaccines for seventh grade, a new Immunization Certificate must be provided to the child’s school.

“With all the activity that surrounds the starting of a new school year, the local health departments would like to help parents get the required immunizations and certificate. That is why we will be open late each Tuesday evening during the month of August to provide the Tdap and varicella vaccine free of charge for those children entering seventh grade,” said Janet Ridley, MS, RN, Director of the East Tennessee Regional Health Office. It is also recommended that parents bring a current shot record for their child to the Health Department.

The remaining clinics will be offered on Aug. 17, Aug. 24 and Aug. 31, beginning at 4 p.m.

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