Immunization requirements for children have changed this year and it is now a requirement that additional doses of some vaccines be given.Parents must make sure they have updated their children’s shot records to show these changes before school starts. Effective July 1, all children entering kindergarten, the sixth grade, and any new student (regardless of age) entering the Georgia school system for the first time — or returning to Georgia schools after being out of our system for a year — will need the following immunizations:• Two doses of MMR or two doses of measles vaccine, two doses of mumps vaccine and one dose of rubella vaccine, or the parent must be able to provide the year the child was diagnosed with the disease (serology).• Two doses of varicella (chicken pox vaccine) or be able to provide the year and history of the disease, its diagnosis or serology.After July 1, any child getting immunizations will be issued the new revised 3231 immunization certificate. Certificates issued prior to July 1 may be either the old form 3231 (revised 10/2003) or the new form 3231 (revised 3/2007) but students registering for school who have the old certificate, must have had the following immunizations:• Two doses of MMR or two doses of measles vaccine, two doses of mumps vaccine, and one dose of rubella or year for serology.• Two doses of varicella (chicken pox vaccine) or have a year for history of the disease, diagnosis or serology.Schools will check for these vaccines, even if the certificate is marked complete. And if the certificate is marked complete and the child has not had the vaccines, or a history or diagnosis of that disease, parents will be required to take their child back to their primary care provider or health department to get the vaccines and a new certificate before they can start school.Many physicians and health departments participate in The Vaccine for Children program, which provides eligible children with recommended vaccines at no cost, except for a small processing fee. The federal government pays for the vaccines, and doctors and clinics agree to give the vaccines to children who qualify. This can be a savings of more than $400. Children from birth through 18 years old can receive vaccines through the VFC program if they are:1. Eligible for Medicaid without health insurance2. American Indian or Alaska Native who are under-insuredMost pediatricians and family doctors take part in the VFC program so ask your doctor or call the local health department to check for local VFC participating providers. VFC vaccines include those for the following diseases:DiphtheriaHaemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)Hepatitis AHepatitis B Measles MumpsPertussis (whooping cough)Pneumococcal diseasePolioRubella (German measles)Tetanus (lockjaw)Varicella (chicken pox)For more information about required and recommended immunizations, call your local health department. And remember, youth entering college need immunizations and updated shot records also. Don’t wait until the last minute. Mark it off of your things-to-do list now and then have fun shopping for clothes and school supplies. Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health Dstrict.