NASHVILLE — Summer break is almost over for many students in Tennessee, and as plans are being made for another school year, it’s important to make sure students receive their required immunizations before going back to the classroom.

“We want Tennessee children to be in school, learning in a safe and healthy environment, so it’s extremely important students are vaccinated against diseases that can spread easily in the classroom or elsewhere,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan. “I encourage parents and caregivers to protect their students, their families and those around them by getting the vaccines they need to stay healthy.”

In Tennessee, children enrolling in school for the first time and all children going into seventh grade must provide schools with a state immunization certificate before classes start as proof they have had all the required immunizations. Additional immunizations are required for students at Tennessee colleges and universities.

“We strongly urge parents to be sure their children receive all recommended vaccines on the immunization schedule. Certain vaccines are also required for school because they help keep children safe in the classroom and on the playground,” said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. “Take this opportunity to talk with your health care provider to be sure your child is fully immunized, and make appointments now so your child won’t miss school because he or she hasn’t had needed vaccines.”

Requirements for school vaccinations in Tennessee:

• Kindergarteners and other children enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time must provide schools with a complete, official Tennessee Immunization Certificate before classes begin. The certificate must be signed by a qualified health care provider or verified by the state’s Immunization Information System. 

• All current students entering seventh grade are required to give the school a limited official Tennessee Immunization Certificate showing they have had a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The HPV cancer vaccine and first meningococcal meningitis vaccine are recommended at this age and can be given at the same time as the required Tdap booster. 

• Immunization requirements for college entry vary by institution, but teens who have had all recommended vaccines including their meningitis booster shot after they turn 16 will be sure to have met any college’s requirements.

Immunizations required for school are readily available from most health care providers across the state, including county health departments. Children younger than age 19 may be eligible for free vaccine if they have no insurance, are enrolled in TennCare, have private insurance that does not cover vaccines or are American Indian or Alaska Native. The complete list of Tennessee child care and school immunization requirements can be found at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/immunization-program/ip/immunization-requirements/childcare-12thgrade-immunization-requirements.html. Local schools and school districts can provide information about when and how immunization certificates need to be provided.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

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