COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Vaccinations have sparked a national debate in recent months, as "anti-vaxers" face backlash in the wake of the measles virus emerging again.
Officials with the Muscogee County School District say administrators want to make sure no viruses pop up in our area by continuing to require children to get their shots before returning to school.
If you don't want to vaccinate your child attending a Muscogee County Public School, the only exemptions offered are religious or a medical excuse, however health officials say an unvaccinated child could put others at risk.
"That's why immunizations are so important because of the protection of the other children," said Darlene Shirley, Lead Nurse with Muscogee County Public Schools.
Health professionals say most children get their school-required shots at a young age, but encourage parents to speak to a doctor about immunity they don't mandate.
"Just because it's not required for school, doesn't mean that it's not important for their child's health," said Shirley.
The Columbus Public Health Department launched their first ever College Vaccination kick off Tuesday to help freshman be as prepared for post-grad life as possible.
Nurses say without some vaccines, their freshman year could be riddled with health issues.
"Some of the dangers of not being immunized against Meningococcal, you can have kidney disease, brain damage, heart damage, you can actually lose limbs and we see that a lot with children," said Colethia Moore, Child Health Nurse Manager.
Professionals explain that starting school off with a spectrum of vaccines can help keep kids healthy, and offer a peace of mind to parents.
"Knowing that you're sending them off to school to get a good education, as well as to have them adequately immunized, those are diseases you don't even have to worry about because they will be protected from it," said Moore.
You can get reduced immunizations if you're a college freshman Wednesday at the Columbus Public Health Department from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Costs vary on what shots you get and how what discounts you're eligible for.