CHARLESTON, W.Va. – School systems throughout West Virginia are reporting tremendous success regarding compliance with new immunization requirements for seventh and 12th graders.
Data collected by the West Virginia Department of Education show a 99.85 percent compliance rate with a new state immunization policy that went into effect this year. Thirty-five of 55 counties reported 100 percent compliance. That’s nearly 39,000 students.
“Immunizations are a vital part of public health and help make sure our students are free from preventable communicable diseases,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “We must take every step we can to keep our children as healthy as possible, and immunizations are essential. A healthy child is one who is in school and can learn.”
West Virginia Board of Education policy requires seventh graders to receive a Tdap vaccine booster as well as a dose of the meningococcal vaccine. High school seniors also must show proof of a single dose of Tdap and a booster dose of the meningococcal vaccine if the first dose was given before the age of 16.
The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough. Whooping cough is a very contagious disease that can last for 10 weeks or more and is life-threatening in infants. The meningococcal vaccine prevents bacterial meningitis, a swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a very serious infection that can become deadly in 48 hours or less.
The new immunization policy for adolescent vaccinations was adopted by the Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, and incorporates the most current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Research shows that unimmunized children can increase the likelihood that infectious outbreaks will occur, putting infants and those with cancer or other medical conditions who can’t be vaccinated at increased risk of illness or death. If as few as 5 percent of children skip vaccinations, others are at risk for contracting infectious diseases.
For more information, contact the WVDE Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.