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Law requires vaccines for all students

With the new school year rapidly approaching, the Kent County Health Department wishes to remind parents to be sure that their children have all the required school immunizations. Michigan law requires that all children entering school be fully immunized.

Changes for this fall include all kindergartners must have two Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines or a documented history of chickenpox; and all 6th graders, 11 years of age ,and anyone 11-18 years of age who is changing school districts, needs to have two Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines, one Meningococcal vaccine, and one Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis vaccine.

“Childhood immunization continues to be one of the most successful and cost-effective means of preventing morbidity and mortality in children,” said Bill Anstey, Deputy Health Officer at the Kent County Health Department.

He noted that vaccines are not just for babies. In addition to the above school requirements, there are other recommended vaccines such as the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine for girls at 11-12 years of age. HPV can also be given to boys. In addition, everyone should receive seasonal flu vaccine each year starting at 6 months of age.

Additionally, several universities and colleges are now recommending or requiring meningitis vaccination for their students, especially those who are entering college for the first time. Students who have not been fully immunized may not be able to attend college until all the vaccination requirements are met.

While many school districts will enroll children who have not been fully immunized and allow them to attend classes, these children may eventually face being excluded from school if their immunizations are not brought up to date in accordance with Michigan Law. Parents are encouraged to call the children’s school for more information about the school’s or district’s policy regarding immunizations.

The Kent County Health Department provides all recommended childhood and required school entry immunizations. Routine immunizations are free to those who qualify. Vaccine administration fees are calculated on a sliding fee scale based on family size and income for individuals qualifying for free vaccine. All others pay a single fee which includes the vaccine administration fee. The Kent County Health Department has a limited amount of free vaccine for insured individuals with high co-pays or deductibles to help minimize costs for parents.

To schedule anappointment at any of the six Kent County Health Department locations, please call (616) 632-7200.

For more information about school entry immunizations, the childhood immunization schedule, or the location and hours of the Kent County Health Department, people may call the Health Department at (616) 632-7200 visit the Kent County Health Department web page at www.accesskent.com/immunizations.

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