|Vaccines save lives and protect our children. When young children are about to enter PreK and kindergarten for the first time, parents have to make sure that their child is up to date on their shots.|
However, young children are not the only ones that need shots. Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, students entering 7th grade and 12th grade will have shot requirements. These requirements must be met before they can start school.
Children that are current with their adolescent shots may have already met the new requirements, however many have not. The following shots are required before the beginning of the 2012-2013 school years:
• 7th Graders must show proof of a booster dose of Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) and a dose of the meningococcal vaccine.
• 12th Graders also must show proof of a single dose of Tdap and a booster dose of the meningococcal vaccine, if the first dose of meningococcal was given before the child's 16th birthday. If the first dose was given after the 16th birthday, then a booster dose of meningococcal is not required.
Although Tdap and meningococcal shots are required for entry into seventh and twelfth grade, they are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for adolescents beginning at age 11. Parents are encouraged to have their children immunized after they turn 11, rather than wait until right before the start of 7th or 12th grade.
The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pertussis is very contagious disease and can last for 10 weeks or more. If pertussis is passed to infants, it can be life-threatening. Young children are protected when they get the DTaP vaccine, but protection wears off as kids get older, so adolescents need the Tdap shot.
The bacterial meningococcal vaccine prevents meningococcal meningitis, a swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a very serious bacterial infection. Meningococcal bacterial meningitis can become deadly in 48 hours or less. Even with treatment, people who get meningitis die in about 10% of cases. About 20% of survivors of meningococcal meningitis have a long-term disability such as deafness, brain damage, or amputated limbs.
While Tdap and meningococcal vaccines are the only two shots required for 7th and 12th graders, the HPV and seasonal influenza vaccines are also recommended for adolescents. The HPV vaccine prevents strains of HPV that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over 6 months—it is very important to get all 3 shots to be fully protected.
Take your child to their health care provider for a routine adolescent check-up to determine if your child's shots are current and to meet the 2012-2013 school entry requirements. Children who are found to be missing shots can receive them during that visit.
Children without a health care provider may visit a local provider the Calhoun Health Department, Minnie Hamilton School-Based Health Center or a community health center for an immunization check-up. Children without insurance or those with insurance that doesn't cover the cost of the immunization may participate in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program that provides free vaccine to children age 18 and under without any out-of-pocket expense to the parent.
Children enrolled with Medicaid or WVCHIP also receive state-supplied vaccines at no cost to the parent.
Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective preventive measures available and have saved countless lives. These new adolescent shot requirements will not only lengthen the time for which vaccinated students are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, but will also lower their chances of passing dangerous diseases on to infants, the elderly, classmates with weakened immune systems, and others.
Please visit the following websites for more information:
• For information on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, visit cdc.gov/vaccines
• For information about WV School immunization requirements, visit dhhr.wv.gov
For school-specific information, please contact:
Trudi M. Anderson RN BSN
Calhoun County School Nurse
304-354-6148 Ext 19