Although there's still more than a month left in the current school year, officials with Metro Nashville Public Schools are wanting parents to be proactive about immunizations for the next school year.
Some places that offer back-to-school immunizations may not have all the vaccines some students need, so the district is getting the word out to make sure parents and students are prepared.
"We had thousands of children that returned to the district last year without their immunizations," said Reba Bryant, coordinator of student health services for Metro schools.
About 3,000 of the district's 5,400 rising seventh-graders didn't have the necessary vaccines by the first day of school last fall.
Bryant says a lot of parents took their children to neighborhood clinics, like Walgreen's or CVS, to get their back-to-school shots, but many clinics didn't have the necessary vaccines.
"At seventh-grade level, students have to have both a TDAP - which is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine - and also a second varicella, which is chicken pox. Many of the places had the TDAP but not the varicella," Bryant said.
It's a problem the district has faced since the Tennessee Department of Health changed immunization requirements in 2010.
Now, officials are sending parents a letter asking them to be mindful when taking their children to clinics.
"We don't try to tell parents where to take their children," Bryant said. "We just want parents to be informed so that they call ahead and check with the clinics and make sure that they have both of the required vaccines for seventh grade."
State health officials say seventh-graders need a booster for an added layer of protection. If the student has had chicken pox before, parents just need to show proof.
Those seventh-graders who don't have both vaccines on the first day will have five days to get them before they're not allowed in class.
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