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CHD offering vaccines, health screenings required before start of new school year

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:27 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Just three weeks from Wednesday, kids will be preparing to head back to school. But before they go, the health department wants to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccines.

Child vaccine numbers are down right now but the county nurse manager hopes that since we will soon be moving out of vacation season and into back to school time, those numbers will pick up again.

The COVID-19 vaccine is optional for kids 12 and up, but some vaccines are still required for school in certain grades.

A new vaccine requirement just went into effect on July 1. All 16 year olds or those going into the 11th grade will need a meningococcal booster shot. It has always been available but for the first time, it is required to help prevent meningitis in teens.

“Teenagers have a habit of being close as far as sharing things, sharing lipstick, drinks, they hug and kiss and so that is a virus that is very easily spread so, it will help prevent that virus which can be very detrimental to the health of a teenager,” said Tami Brown, Chatham County Nurse Manager.

The HPV vaccine is also highly recommended to prevent certain cancers.

The health department is available for walk-ins or appointments to give those before school shots, and they accept most insurance.

The school nurse will give a few weeks of a grace period to get those shots before not allowing a child to come to school, so take time this week to get caught up for the upcoming school year.

And if your children will be heading to a Georgia public school for the first time this year, don’t forget they need a health screening. The Coastal Health District is offering a free clinic this week to get as many kids in as possible.

This screening is a requirement for any student that is new to the Georgia Public School System that will be starting school this fall.

During the clinic, students will get an eye exam, hearing test, dental check-up and nutrition screening. Normally, this clinic cost $29 per child but this year, it is completely free.

It is open to anyone regardless of insurance.

“We want to bring in as many kids as we can so we can make sure they are on the level. They need to be and we want to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines. With the pandemic, a lot of children have fallen behind on their vaccines because they were being schooled from home, so we want to make sure they have everything they need, there are certain things they need for certain grades,” Brown said.

There is no appointment necessary. It will be first come, first served. You do not need to live in Chatham County to get a free health screening.

The clinic is Thursday, July 15 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Coastal Health District location on Eisenhower Drive.

CHD will host another clinic on Thursday, July 29, also from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about vaccinations and health screenings for school, click here.

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