New vaccines required for local middle schoolers - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

FOX 5 Medical Team

New vaccines required for local middle schoolers

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ATLANTA -

Children's infectious disease specialist Dr. Andi Shane says if she could tell parents anything, it would be not to treat vaccinations like punishment, or tease kids about getting their shots.

And, this fall, rising Georgia 7th graders – in both public and private schools - will need two new vaccinations:

The first the Tdap, a booster for Pertussis, Tetanus and Diphtheria.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is caused by a bacteria that can trigger a chronic, nagging cough in most people.

But, in babies and infants too young to be vaccinated, it's really dangerous.

Dr. Shane says, “Many of them develop severe respiratory distress and require hospitalization, often times in an intensive care unit, and sometimes even death.”

So - why do 7th graders - need a booster for pertussis? Because there has been a jump in whooping cough infections in middle- school students across the country, who were vaccinated as younger children. Dr. Shane says, “We think part of that is due to a waning of immunity. Vaccinations in young children get are no longer effective as they get older."

Rising seventh graders will also need a meningitis vaccination. It protects against bacterial meningitis, a

bacterial infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, which can also cause severe complications.

The vaccine is already required for students starting college, because the bacteria tends to spread in close quarters.

Dr. Shane recommends getting both vaccinations soon, since it can take two weeks for the vaccine to trigger the immune response needed to protect a student. She says, “I think we need to think of these immunizations more as both protection for the individual child and the community. So, by immunizing your child, you're protecting your child and the community."

If your student needs back-to-school vaccinations, contact your pediatrician or your local health department.

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