January 14, 2000

County 6th Graders Must Begins Hepatitis B Shots Now

State Law Requires All Students to be Immunized

Parents, schools and health care providers need to work together now to make sure all the county's 6th graders are immunized against hepatitis B before the end of the school year, urged Dr. George Flores, public health officer for San Diego County.

All students entering 7th grade must have three hepatitis B shots and two measles shots to comply with state law.

It takes four to six months to complete the hepatitis series, so parents should make an appointment to get the first shot no later than Jan. 31. By starting now and staying on schedule, 6th graders will be able to show the school a completed immunization record before the end of the school year. Not meeting the requirements in time can cause problems for students and their parents.

"If students arrive at school missing required shots, the school will have to send them home until they get the needed doses," Dr. Flores said. "Parents shouldn't procrastinate. If they wait until the last minute, there will likely be long lines at the doctor or clinic, and delays in admitting students until shot records can be verified.

"We recommend that parents make appointments for hepatitis B shots now and also schedule a preventive health exam at the same time. Tobacco use and substance abuse, injury prevention, and other health issues should be addresses at this age, too."

Having students get their shots early is the focus of Pre-Teen Vaccine Week, a statewide campaign from Jan. 17-23. The campaign is aimed at helping schools alert families and health care providers that 6th graders must start the three-shot hepatitis B series in January, if they have not already begun. This past fall, the first year the state mandated the shots, 69 percent of entering students arrived meeting all requirements. But 31 percent of the 38,729 entering students needed more doses.


Immunization Clinic to Highlight Preteen Vaccine Week

San Diego City Schools will hold an immunization clinic on Thursday, January 20, as part of the state's second annual Preteen Vaccine Week. The clinic will be at Mann Middle School for sixth-and seventh-grade students from the campus to receive vaccination against hepatitis B. State law now requires that all seventh graders receive vaccination against hepatitis B and a second vaccination against measles, or they cannot attend school.

San Diego City Schools has been holding clinics periodically at its elementary and middle schools to inoculate as many students as possible. A parent wishing to have a child vaccinated should contact the nurse at the child's school. The nurse will make arrangements for a consent form to be filled out by the parent. A parent should also provide shot records of the child for the clinic.

The 1997 state law requiring hepatitis B vaccination is based on guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The incidences of hepatitis B have been increasing, especially among the age group 15-24.

For more information, please contact Susie Horn, immunization coordinator at the Comprehensive Health and Wellness office of San Diego City Schools, (858) 627-7594.

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