Students entering seventh and 12th grade this fall will need to make a visit to the doctor or local health clinic before school begins to update their immunizations.
State law and West Virginia Board of Education policy now requires seventh-graders to receive a Tdap vaccine booster as well as a dose of the meningococcal vaccine. High school seniors also must show proof of a single dose of Tdap and a booster dose of the meningococcal vaccine if the first dose was given before the age of 16.
The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. Whooping cough is a very contagious disease that can last for 10 weeks or more and is life-threatening in infants. The meningococcal vaccine prevents bacterial meningitis, a swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a very serious infection that can become deadly in 48 hours or less.
The new requirement incorporates adolescent vaccinations from the Bureau for Public Health Interpretive Rule and adopts the most current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
"Immunizations are a vital part of public health and help make sure our students are free from preventable communicable diseases," said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. "We must take every step we can to keep our children as safe and healthy as possible, and immunizations are essential. A healthy child is one who is in school and can learn."
The West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health have collaborated to communicate the new requirements with schools, school nurses, health services directors, superintendents, attendance directors, school counselors, building administrators and others through fliers, posters, public service announcements, television commercials, among other avenues.
For more information, anyone interested can contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.