KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County Health Department is urging parents to make sure their kids are up-to-date on vaccines before school starts.
Health officials said all students entering preschool, kindergarten or 7th grade, or those entering a Tennessee school for the first time, should receive state-required vaccines. That means immunizations for measles, polio, chicken pox and a few more.
Parents must provide a certificate of vaccination to their child's school. Tennessee schools follow vaccination guidelines from the CDC.
As a dad, Joe Schuchmann is always looking out for his little guys. As his three-year-old goes off to preschool this fall, he made sure he's up-to-date on his vaccinations.
"I want him to be immune to measles, mumps, rubella and other preventable diseases," Schuchmann said.
Medical workers said it's best to call your child's doctor.
"Because they may be up to date, and you just don't realize it, or they may not be," said Jennifer Nash, a physician's assistant with Summit Express Clinic in Farragut. "It's as simple as a phone call to the nurse. Also make sure you have that sheet of paper. The key is the record, because the school is going to be looking for that immunization record."
Nash said vaccinations are important because of the exposure your child will experience going to school.
"So the chances of them catching something that's preventable from these vaccines increases," Nash said.
She said some vaccinations also require that a doctor examine your child in a check-up, and that's part of the certificate that schools need to see.
Knox County Schools has a 95.9 percent kindergarten immunization compliance, according to a state report from the 2017-2018 school year. You can see vaccination rates in other counties on the Tennessee Department of Health website.
To parents like Schuchmann, that's encouraging, even after a measles outbreak this year in several states.
"All the same, they get their vaccinations scheduled so I'm not terribly concerned about it," Schuchmann said.
The Knox County Health Department said kids with medical exemptions must provide the school with documentation from their medical provider. The department said religious exemptions require a signed statement by the parent that the vaccination conflicts with their religious beliefs.