New Immunization Required for Savannah-Chatham Students

With school for Savannah-Chatham students right around the corner, kids are lining up to get their shots. Now, they may have to stay in the chair a little longer. Three new vaccines will be given to keep students healthy throughout the school year.

Kristin Poitras has three children and says she doesn't mind the new requirements. "It normally doesn't concern me when they say they need another vaccine. It's for their protection," she said.

This year students will need the pneumococcal vaccine, two doses of the Hepatitis A immunization and a second dose of the chicken pox vaccine. "In the last couple of years, studies have shown the immunity does wear off. And last year, in particular, one of the largest outbreaks ever, throughout the country, was in Richmond Hill, Georgia," explained pediatrician Dr. Ben Spitalnick.

But Dr.Spitalnick says right now, the chicken pox vaccine is hard to come by. "Just after they announced the second requirement and people came in to get it, they developed a national shortage. We've had very spotty availability through out the summer and it has been frustrating for parents," he said.

Kristin agreed. "We've been in several times this summer to get it and each time they're out. And they're out today too," she said.

Now many parents are wondering how to get their child immunized before the start of school. With the chicken pox vaccine in such short supply, the Chatham County Health Department is giving students waivers. It allows kids to still enter school, only if they come back to get the shot when supplies come in. "The certificate is good for two months and that will allow us time to get the vaccine from the state," said Clinical and Nursing coordinator Betty Dixon.

Meanwhile, health officials hope parents will check their child's immunization records and get them up to date now so they'll be ready to hit the books in just a couple of weeks.

If parents have questions, they should call their pediatrician. You can also log onto for a complete list of all the vaccines required this school year.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti,