POINT PLEASANT — Though summer is in full swing, it’s never too early to think about childhood immunizations for school.
Beginning in 2011, and continuing every year thereafter, older students entering the seventh and 12th grade will have shot requirements that must be met before the start of the school year. Seventh-grade students must show proof of a booster dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine and one dose of meningococcal/meningitis vaccine. Twelfth grade students also must show proof of a dose of Tdap (ususally obtained at age 11-12 years) plus at least one dose of meningococcal/meningitis vaccine after the age of 16 years.
If the student received a meningococcal vaccine prior to the age of 16, a second meningococcal vaccine will be required for the 12th grade.
These vaccines can be obtained at the physician’s office, along with a comprehensive medical exam. An annual physical exam is still needed even though children are soon to be adults. Some physicians that adolescents see may not offer the vaccines. In those cases the health department can help.
If people have private insurance that pays for vaccines but the physician does not provide vaccines, the physician will provide a referral form that can be taken to the health department, along with the most current immunization record. If insurance does not cover the vaccine, people may obtain vaccines at the health department if that person has Medicaid, CHIPS or no insurance.
It is important that people have a copy of the child’s immunization record when they go to the physician’s office or health department. Although the state of West Virginia has a statewide immunization registry, not all physicians participate in it. This registry allows a child’s immunization record to be obtained on the computer and shared from one physicians office to the other, as well as health departments.
Other facilities may offer vaccinations for the back to school requirements, regardless of where one gets a child’s vaccine, the important point is that people take a complete immunization record with them and leave with a record that includes the vaccines they received that visit.
Seventh- and twelfth-grade students will not be allowed to attend school this fall without proof of these immunizations. It is important that once one receives the vaccines and the providers update the immunization record, that the school nurse is sent a copy of the vaccines for their records.
People who have questions about the vaccines should call their doctor, health department or school nurse. Don’t wait until fall to make a doctors appointment to get these vaccines. The Mason County Health Department offers after-hours vaccine clinics every Monday until 6:30 p.m. until Aug. 24, as well as Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. If these hours are not convenient, call the health department at 304-675-3050.
(Information for this article provided by Mason County Health Department staff.)