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Tennessee Department of Health Encourages Parents to Make Appointments Now for School Vaccinations to Avoid Last-Minute Rush

Tennessee Department of HealthNashville, TN – School’s out for summer, and right now Tennessee youngsters and their parents may have camp sessions, vacation and play dates on their minds. But the next school year is just around the corner, and some students will need immunizations before school starts.

Tennessee students are required to have a number of immunizations for school attendance, and parents are urged to make appointments now for needed vaccinations to avoid the last-minute rush to get them when the new school year starts.

A child receiving an immunization
A child receiving an immunization

“We don’t want to see children turned away from school on the first day because they lack their completed immunization certificates, but unfortunately this can and does happen,” said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. “Tennessee parents can avoid the stress of trying to get into a health care provider’s office at the last minute by taking care of immunization needs now.”

Specific immunizations are required for children entering child care or pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and seventh grade, and for any children in other grades enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time. A list of required immunizations is below.

School certificates may be obtained from your child’s healthcare provider or from a local health department. Questions about school policies on when or how immunization certificates must be provided should be directed to local schools.

FImmunizationull-time college students in Tennessee are also required to have immunizations, including a new state law effective July 1st, 2013, requiring freshmen younger than 22 years of age who attend state colleges and will live in campus housing to provide proof of immunization against meningococcal disease.

“Getting vaccinated is a safe and simple way to protect us all from potentially deadly diseases,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Vaccination also helps ensure students don’t miss important classroom time due to preventable illnesses, and that parents don’t have to miss work to care for sick children.”

Vaccines prevent disease from occurring rather than treating existing illnesses. High rates of routine vaccination in the United States protect the population from diseases that are still common in other countries, such as measles. The Tdap booster required for students entering seventh grade is especially important, given the resurgence of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the United States. TDH supports and promotes all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for childhood and adolescent vaccinations as an important primary prevention measure to protect public health.

A preschooler getting a shot
A preschooler getting a shot

Immunizations required for school are available from a variety of health care providers, including county health departments. Children may be eligible to receive 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. There is a separate charge for administration of the vaccine which may be discounted for children with no insurance, who are American Indian or Alaska Native, and children with private insurance that does not cover vaccines.

Parents with insurance for their children that covers vaccines should contact their child’s primary care provider to get immunizations. If the private provider does not have vaccines available for older children or adolescents, parents may call their local health department for an appointment. There may be charges associated with this service.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee.

For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.

Required Vaccinations

Children enrolling in child care facilities, pre-school, pre-Kindergarten

Vaccination
Vaccination

Infants entering child care facilities must be up to date at the time of enrollment and are required to provide an updated certificate after completing all of the required vaccines due by 18 months of age.

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (1 dose of each, usually given together as MMR)
  • Varicella (1 dose or history of disease)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) – age younger than 5 years only (This requirement is resumed immediately, following suspension during a national Hib vaccine shortage 2008-2009)
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) (July 1st, 2010)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – age younger than 5 years only (July 1, 2010)
  • Hepatitis A – 1 dose, required by 18 months of age or older (July 1st, 2010)

Children enrolling in Kindergarten

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, usually given together as MMR)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday now required
  • Varicella (2 doses or history of disease): previously only one dose was required (July 1, 2010)
  • Hepatitis A –total of 2 doses, spaced at least 6 months apart (July 1st, 2011)

All children entering 7th grade (including currently enrolled students)

  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster (“Tdap”) – not required if a Td booster dose given less than 5 years before 7th grade entry is recorded on the DTaP/Td line (no later than October 1st, 2010)
  • Verification of immunity to varicella – 2 doses or history of disease (July 1st, 2010)

Children who are new enrollees in a TN school in grades other than Kindergarten or 7th

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, usually given together as MMR)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday now required
  • Varicella (2 doses or history of disease) – previously only one dose was required
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – previously only for Kindergarten, 7th grade entry

Children with medical or religious exemption to requirements

  • Medical – Physician or health department authorized to indicate specific vaccines medically exempted (because of risk of harm) on the new form. Other vaccines remain required.
  • Religious – Requires a signed statement by the parent/guardian that vaccination conflicts with their religious tenets or practices. If documentation of a health examination is required by the school, it must be noted by the healthcare provider on the immunization certificate. In that case, the provider should check the box that the parent has sought a religious exemption.

Full-time Tennessee college students

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, usually given together as MMR): if born on or after January 1st, 1957 only.
  • Varicella (2 doses or history of disease): if born on or after January 1st, 1980 only, Effective (July 1st, 2011)

Hepatitis B (HBV) – only for health science students expected to have patient contact (before patient contact begins) Effective (July 1st, 2011)

Students should also consider the need for the meningococcal vaccine, particularly if the student will be living in a dormitory.

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