Health department reminds parents to vaccinate children before school starts

Local News

The 2019-2020 school year is around the corner, and health department officials are reminding parents to add another item on their school supply list: Vaccinations.

State law requires students to have adequate immunization for several diseases before attending school.

Children attending public kindergarten classes are required to have the following immunizations:

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella – 2 doses of each, usually given together as MMR
  • Varicella – 2 doses or credible history of disease
  • Hepatitis A – total of 2 doses, spaced at least 6 – 18 months apart

After the initial vaccinations, children attending public school don’t need more immunizations until entering the 7th grade.

Students entering 7th grade are required to receive one more immunization: Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster (Tdap) – evidence of one Tdap dose given any time before 7th grade entry is required regardless of Tdap history.

If a student starts public school after kindergarten and before 7th grade, they must have proof of the following immunizations:

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, or DT if appropriate)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (2 doses of each, normally given together as MMR)
  • Poliomyelitis (IPV or OPV) – final dose on or after the 4th birthday now required
  • Varicella (2 doses or credible history of disease) – previously only one dose was required
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) – previously only for Kindergarten, 7th grade entry
  • New students entering grades other than 7th grade are not required to have Tdap

Although a child might have received the appropriate vaccinations, parents must provide adequate proof, which is the Official Immunization Certificate.

The certificate can be obtained at the local health department or the doctor’s office where the vaccinations were given.

State law allows certain exemptions for medical or religious reasons, but parents must show the appropriate document for either reason.

Dena Mashburn, director of nursing at the Knox County Health Department, said that each of the three facilities offer vaccinations, but parents must schedule an appointment.

Mashburn said that parents should schedule sooner rather than later. The closer it is to the beginning of school, the busier the health department gets.

She also said that vaccinations are very important and very safe.

“If you remember, you’re not only protecting your child, you’re protecting all the kids in their classroom too, and some of those kids can’t get those vaccines,” Mashburn said.

She said parents should talk with their pediatricians to find out if a vaccination could be harmful for their child. Parents should ask about the risks versus benefits.

Those who wish to have their child vaccinated at the health department should call 865-215-5070 to schedule an appointment.

For more information about the required vaccinations, visit the state health department here, or the Knox County Health Department here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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