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Could children end up catching measles at a summer camp in Georgia?

Summer camps in Georgia are not required by the state to compel attendees to have vaccinations.

ATLANTA — Thousands of children across Georgia are starting to attend summer day-camps and overnight-camps. 

And this year, with the worst measles outbreak in the U.S. in 27 years, we’re beginning to hear of some local governments across the country requiring private summer camp operators to ban children who have not had their measles vaccinations.

But in Georgia, the law is not as strict. Similar bans here are not expected.

Sun, fun -- and measles? At summer camps in Georgia? Not likely, for now -- for many reasons.

The chances may be no better or worse for a summer camp measles outbreak in Georgia than they are in the schools. But there is plenty of room under Georgia law for private summer camp operators here to come up with their own rules about accepting or banning any children who have not had a measles vaccination.

According to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) summer camps in Georgia can choose, if they want, to get a state license -- a license that includes a requirement that all children have their vaccinations up to date.

But even children in state-licensed summer camps in Georgia can be exempt from having vaccinations, for religious or medical reasons, just like in the schools.

RELATED | Summer camp is newest front in battle with measles outbreak

Unlicensed summer camps can choose to require vaccinations or not.

Then there are the summer camps in Georgia -- some licensed, some unlicensed -- that earn accreditation from the American Camp Association (ACA). They have to comply with the ACA's standards of quality.

There are currently 43 ACA accredited summer camps in Georgia.

And all of those accredited camps are required to accept only children who have had their vaccinations.

What are the odds that an unvaccinated child will be attending a summer camp in Georgia?

Going by the numbers of unvaccinated children in Georgia schools, the numbers of unvaccinated children in summer camps may, correspondingly, be low.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 527,316 Georgia school children are up to date with their vaccinations. And 2.06 percent of Georgia school children -- 9,728 school children -- are unvaccinated due to religious or medical exemptions.

How many of those unvaccinated children will get into summer camps in Georgia along with vaccinated children? No one can answer. Also, some children do attend summer camps in Georgia from other states, where the vaccination requirements and rates may be different.

So, as it is, Georgia leaves it basically up to the parents to do their own checking on a particular summer camp's vaccination information -- if they wish -- before sending their children there.


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