7th and 12th Graders: Your New Requirements
If you have children heading into the 7th or 12th grades, you need to make sure they have had their immunizations before they return to class later this month.
West Virginia is the 40th state to require these vaccines for students in middle and high schools.
West Virginia Division of Immunization Services Director Jeff Neccuzi says it all comes down to two very important immunizations.
“Seventh grade students must have one Tdap and one meningitis vaccine. Twelfth graders must also show proof that they’ve had one Tdap. And if they had their first dose of meningitis vaccine before their 16th birthday, must show proof of a second dose,” he said.
Having that Tdap or the vaccine that covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, has become a major concern for health experts over the past few years.
“There’s a national resurgence of pertussis in the United States,” Neccuzi said. “West Virginia has also seen increased number in cases.“
Neccuzi says pertussis, or whooping cough is not necessarily a disease adults need to worry about but for children it can be serious.
“Not only do we want to protect adolescent children from pertussis. It’s also a very important part of the strategy to protect infants from pertussis,” he said.
Whooping Cough can turn deadly for infants and immunizing children is one way to, what Neccuzi calls, “cocoon” the infant population from the deadly disease.
When it comes to where you get your child’s vaccines, if you are covered under insurance, you need to go to your family physician not your local health department.
“County health departments in West Virginia cannot offer free vaccines to just anyone. A child has to be qualified for this by virtue of no insurance or being [covered] under Medicaid,” according to Neccuzi.
If you child gets an annual check-up there is a good chance they will not even need the vaccine because most doctors include those shots during a regular exam.