Hepatitis B shots now required for 7th graders in Calfornia schools
It’s not just kindergarten kids who need to get their shots for school this year, according to Dr. Jack Bertman, Mono County Health Officer.
A new 7th grade immunization requirement, now in effect, means that all California students entering 7th grade also must show proof of three hepatitis B shots and two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shots. A Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster is also recommended for 7th graders.
“The three-shot hepatitis B series takes four to six months to complete,” said Dr. Bertman. “Students who began the series and are currently up-to-date may be admitted on condition, even if all three shots have not been completed on time. Students who do not have proof that they have the shots, or began the series, will be excluded from school.”
Hepatitis B shots are required for children entering kindergarten and child care, in addition to the other required shots.
“Most parents are familiar with the idea of getting school booster shots for their children before child care, preschool and kindergarten,” Bertman said. “We want to encourage families to protect their children and to get all the recommended immunizations.”
The burden of vaccine-preventable diseases is often not appreciated and explained. Hepatitis B, in particular, is thought to have already infected some 300 million people worldwide, and at least 1 million of them live in the U.S., according to the CDC. Capable of causing inflammation of the liver, severe liver disease and even liver cancer, hepatitis B frequently goes unnoticed for years in individuals who have it.
As with all school immunization laws, California provides an exemption for medical reasons and personal beliefs.
“There are exemptions,” Bertman said. “If your child cannot receive one or more of the vaccines for medical reasons, your doctor can give you a note to submit to the school. If immunizations are against your personal beliefs, you can choose an exemption from the requirements. But the downside is, if you claim the exemption and there is an outbreak of the disease for which your child is unprotected, he or she may have to be excluded from school until the outbreak is over.”
The Mono County Health Department will hold a free walk-in immunization clinic for preschool, kindergarten and 7th grade students at the health department, located above Giovanni’s in Mammoth Lakes, on Thursday, July 15, from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. No appointment is needed.