Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is March 13-17
North Georgia – Let’s face it – nobody likes getting shots – but a shot lasts a second: diseases last much longer.
In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health established Georgia Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, observed March 13-17, 2017, to serve as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Preteens are at an age when they are becoming more independent and social. They spend more time out with friends, playing sports, going to sleepaway camps and attending parties. While this is a fun part of growing up, these activities could increase their risk for contracting potentially life-threatening diseases,” said Sheila Lovett, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “Parents, make it a priority to vaccinate your preteen against these preventable diseases.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002, entering or transferring into seventh grade and any “new entrant” into eighth through 12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called “Tdap”) AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MenACWY). 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 home schools).
These vaccines are available at county public health departments in the North Georgia Health District. Our public health department locations and phone numbers are as follows:
Cherokee: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115 - (770) 345-7371 / 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock, GA 30188 - (770) 928-0133
Fannin: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA - (706) 632-3023
Gilmer: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540 - (706) 635-4363
Murray: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705 - (706) 695-4585
Pickens: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143 - (706) 253-2821
Whitfield: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720 - (706) 226-2621
Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They 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.
“The question parents often ask about vaccinations for their preteen or teen is ‘Why does my child need this vaccine?’,” said Ashley Ridley, RN, BSHA, Immunization Coordinator for the North Georgia Health District. “The answer is simple. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent diseases such as meningitis, which can cause shock, coma and even death within hours of the first symptom, and the Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, as well as other oral and genital cancers in men and women; therefore, it is recommended that, ideally, the vaccine be given to girls and boys before they become sexually active and exposed to HPV.”
The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:
Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - three doses
Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY)
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. Speak with your healthcare provider or county public health department today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date and if not, make a date to vaccinate.
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