04/13/08 — Two new shots required for school this fall

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Two new shots required for school this fall

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 13, 2008 2:01 AM

Changes to the state's immunization rules will require a number of children and teens to be vaccinated before the start of the next school year.

A booster dose of Tdap -- tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis -- vaccine will be required for three age groups: Students entering sixth grade in the fall, or who are 12 years old on or before Aug. 1, provided five or more years have passed since their last tetanus/diphtheria vaccine, and individuals enrolling college for the first time on or after July 1, if the vaccine has not been received within the last 10 years.

The change also impacts the mumps vaccine, with a second dose required before enrolling in school, college or university for the first time. However, any child entering school prior to July 1 is exempt from the requirement.

School officials and health care providers' biggest concern at this point is getting the word out and avoiding a last-minute rush to get the vaccine over the summer.

Allison Pridgen, director of student support services for Wayne County Public Schools, said the district is working closely with Goldsboro Pediatrics and the Health Department to publicize the changes.

"We're kind of batting around some different ideas of what might work to get the information home to parents," she said.

As a district, officials are also discussing what the ramifications and consequences will be for those who don't comply.

Ideally, Mrs. Pridgen said, area pediatricians would like to see the bulk of the vaccines given before the summer months, when kindergarten assessments consume a lot of appointments at doctors' offices.

The Health Department is also making sure the vaccine is available for anyone who needs it, said Health Director James Roosen.

Roosen pointed out that part of the need for the vaccine, which guards against pertussis or whooping cough, was prompted by recent cases in the state, found to have occurred in "unimmunized kids," he said.

To date, no plans have been made to hold a mass immunization clinic similar to ones held for the flu vaccine, but that could is a possibility, Roosen said.

A supply of the vaccines is already on hand, officials said.

"We have no preparation except for the people to come in and get it," said Debbie Garner, immunization coordinator.

The walk-in clinic is open weekdays from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m., with no appointment necessary, she said.

There are two different types of the Tdap vaccine, Ms. Garner noted -- Adacel, which is given to anyone ages 11 to 64, and which the Health Department carries; and Boostrix, which is given to 10-18-year-olds.

"A 10-year-old could not get a shot here. They have to be at least 11," she explained.

The only requirements at the Health Department are to provide a shot record for verification of the last tetanus shot and Medicaid patients to bring a Medicaid card.

"The shot is free but we're allowed to file for the administrative fee," she said.

For more information, visit the Web site www.immunizenc.org.