(08/17/2012)
West Virginia seventh and 12th graders who show up for the first day of school without having their required immunizations will still be allowed to attend.

A two-week grace period is being allowed while counties work with parents and students to get them up-to-date on their vaccines, said Rebecca King of the WV Department of Education.

According to state law, seventh-graders need a Tdap vaccine booster and a dose of the meningococcal/meningitis vaccine before beginning the 2012-13 school year.

Students entering 12th grade need proof of a booster dose of Tdap and either one or two doses of the meningococcal/ meningitis vaccine - one if the first dose was administered after the student's 16th birthday, and two if it was administered before.

The new immunization rules, which were introduced in 2011, are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Tdap prevents tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

The meningococcal vaccine prevents bacterial meningitis, which causes swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

King said a parent has to comply for a child to continue to receive a public education.

"It is an immunization rule. We have to follow the law, and that's a public health law," King said.


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