BELLE, W.Va. — Health officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and Cabin Creek Health Systems want parents to know that now is the time to check their children’s immunization status, before the start of next school year.
“We understand that it’s summer time, it’s a great time for everybody, but it’s also a time of opportunity for parents to make sure that they get caught up with their children on vaccinations,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the state chief health officer and commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.
Gupta, Karen Bowling, the DHHR Cabinet Secretary and Cabin Creek health officials held a press event Friday at Riverside High School in Kanawha County to raise awareness and discuss the importance for school entry shots in West Virginia. Several students were also on hand to receive the shots required before they can start school.
According to the DHHR, children entering a West Virginia school for the first time from kindergarten through 12th grade are required to have the DTaP, polio, MMR, chickenpox and hepatitis B vaccines. Children who are not behind schedule can receive school entry “booster” doses.
Before entering 7th grade, students must receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. They must also get a dose of the meningitis vaccine.
Those students entering 12th grade must also get the Tdap shot. They must receive a second dose of the meningitis vaccine, only if the first dose was given before their 16th birthday. A second dose of meningitis is not required if the first dose was given after the child turned 16.
“It’s important that the outbreaks that we do see across the nation, our kids in West Virginia are protected,” said Gupta, “There’s always the risk of contracting deadly diseases, such as meningitis.”
Students who do not meet the shot requirements before next school year will be unable to enter school or continue to take part in extracurricular activities.
Gupta said they also want to make sure children who have not yet entered kindergarten or 1st grade are able to obtain the same level of benefits of immunization and prevention compared to those who already have.
“You’re not only protecting your child, you’re protecting the entire family, friends, community and neighborhoods.”
To read more about required school entry immunizations, visit www.immunization.wv.gov.