Under a new state rule, effective July 1, all students entering the 11th grade require proof of a booster dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) unless they received their first dose on or after their 16th birthday.
“Incoming high school juniors who turn 16 before the start of next school year can get meningitis booster shots and certificates of immunization from their pediatrician or their local health department,” says Mary Ann Long, district immunization coordinator for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District.
“Incoming juniors who are not yet 16 should wait until their 16th birthday to get the booster dose,” Long advises. “The booster is in addition to the one required for students entering seventh grade.”
According to Long, some children may be eligible for shots through the federal Vaccines for Children program,which charges only an administration fee, and families who are unable to pay the fee can request financial assistance.
Georgia law requires the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for students unless they have a documented exemption. The vaccine protects against meningitis, an inflammation of the membranessurrounding the brain and spinal cord that can be fatal.
Long recommends that parents ask their pediatrician or local health department about other shots their child may need including:
- the human papillomavirus (HPV) series;
- the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis shot (Tdap or Td booster;
- an annual flu vaccine; and
- catch-up immunizations, including chickenpox, MMR
(measles, mumps, rubella) and hepatitis B.
For more information about child and adolescent immunizations, including the new requirement for a meningitis booster, go to
About the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District: The Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District works to track and prevent the spread of disease; promote health, safety, and wellbeing through education and communication; and prepare for, respond to, and ensure our communities are ready to handle public health emergencies, thereby improving the quality of life for individuals and families in ten northwest Georgia counties: Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk and Walker. Our county health departments provide a variety of medical services; monitor area environmental safety, including restaurant inspections; and help ensure their communities are prepared for disasters. Find us on the web at www.nwgapublichealth.org. Follow us on Facebookto receive news, emergency messages, and health-and-safety information at www.facebook.com/NorthwestHealthDistrict