Additional school shots required for students starting 2012-13 school year
Beginning with the 2012/2013 school year, all West Virginia students entering seventh grade will be required to have had one dose of Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) and one dose of the meningococcal vaccines before the start of the school year.
Students entering 12th grade must also have had at least one dose of the Tdap vaccine and a booster dose of the meningococcal vaccine. If the first dose of the meningococcal vaccine was received after age 16, then the booster dose is not needed.
Although Tdap and meningococcal vaccinations are required for entry into seventh and 12th grade, they are recommended by the 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 seventh and 12 grade, to ensure that their child is fully protected from these vaccine-preventable diseases throughout their adolescence.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
Pertussis is very contagious and can last for 10 weeks or more. If pertussis is transmitted to infants, it can be life-threatening. Young children are protected when they get the Tdap vaccine, but protection wears off as kids get older, so adolescents need the Tdap vaccination.
The meningococcal vaccine prevents bacterial meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a serious bacterial infection. This infection can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, amputation and even death.
While Tdap and meningococcal vaccines are the only two immunizations required for seventh and 12th graders, the HPV and seasonal influenza vaccines are also recommended, although not required, for adolescents. The HPV vaccine prevents strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months — it is very important to get all three shots to be fully protected.
Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective preventive measures available and have saved countless lives. These new adolescent immunization requirements will not only lengthen the time for which immunized students are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, but will also lower their chances of passing diseases to the infants, the elderly, classmates with weakened immune systems, and others.
Take your adolescent to their health care provider for a routine adolescent check-up to determine if your teen’s shots are current and to meet the 2012-2013 school entry requirements. Adolescents who are found to be missing shots can receive them during the visit.
Teens without a family doctor or health care provider may visit a local provider or the Morgan County Health Department for their immunizations.
To schedule an appointment with the Morgan County Health Department, call 304-258-1513 extension 11.