Originally created 08/05/99

School officials urge early start on children's immunizations



Getting kids ready for school means more than buying new clothes and notebooks -- it means getting their shots and getting them early.

"If there's one thing we're stressing, it's, `Folks don't wait,"' said Mike Hough, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. This year, South Carolina will be requiring children enrolling in kindergarten, first, second, seventh and eighth grades to have at least started the three-shot series against Hepatitis B.

"If they've begun the process, they'll work it out, but they have to give (school officials) some evidence they're in the process," Mr. Hough said.

Georgia officials are also encouraging parents to get an early start on the required immunizations.

"Otherwise they'll end up in a long line," said Jane Oglesby, director of nursing at Richmond County Health Department.

Children can get a 30-day waiver to enroll and get caught up on shots, said Odalys Farris, nurse supervisor for the Appling clinic of the Columbia County Health Department.

"After that 30-day period, they're out until their shots are (caught) up," Mrs. Farris said.

South Carolina is also requiring a second vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella for those in grades K-10, Mr. Hough said.

Here are the immunization and health exams required by local county school systems:

RICHMOND COUNTY

At least three doses of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and poliomyelitis, with the last dose administered on or after the fourth birthday. Measles, mumps and rubella. To enter the sixth grade, a second dose administered after the first birthday is required.

Ear, eye and dental exams. Richmond County Health Department offers the exams for $12. The health department also provides immunizations -- the three most commonly needed shots would total $28.

All students entering kindergarten, or first-graders who are entering school for the first time, must also submit a certified copy of their birth certificate; proof of Georgia residence; and a Social Security card.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

At least three doses of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and poliomyelitis, with the last dose administered on or after the fourth birthday. Measles, mumps and rubella. To enter the sixth grade, a second dose administered after the first birthday is required. Ear, eye and dental exams. The Columbia County Health Department offers the exams on a sliding-scale fee based on family size and income ranging from free to $15. Shots are also priced on a sliding-fee scale from free to $10.

AIKEN COUNTY

Social Security card.

Three doses of any combination of the following: DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), DT (diphtheria and tetanus), DTP-Hib (same as above, plus meningitis), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis), or Td (tetanus diphtheria), with at least one dose delivered on or after the fourth birthday.

Three doses of oral or inactivated polio vaccine, with one dose after the fourth birthday. One dose of rubeola (measles) on or after the first birthday. Children entering any child-development program, or entering kindergarten through the 10th grade, also need a second dose of rubeola after the first birthday. One dose of rubella (German measles) vaccine on or after the first birthday. One dose of mumps vaccine after the first birthday. Three doses of hepatitis B vaccine for all children admitted to kindergarten, first, second, seventh or eighth grade.

Tom Corwin covers science and medicine for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.