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Health Team

Students without vaccinations could get suspended

Posted September 19, 2008

— Sixth graders face suspension from school if they do not have required immunizations by next Tuesday, according to a new state law.

All 12-year-old students must have a booster of the Tdap vaccine, which protects against Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, or whooping cough.

A state law, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires that principals suspend students whose guardians do not provide updated immunization records within 30 days of the start of school. The suspension is not a disciplinary measure.

"They'll be turned back home, and we're going to be calling parents, saying, 'I'm sorry, but you're child is suspended," said Mary Owens, supervisor of nursing for Lee County Public School system.

In Lee County, 150 students could be suspended. Those numbers rise to 3,300 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, 1,200 in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and 1,000 in Alamance County

"It's critical that they be in school, but we have to follow the law," Oates said.

The deadline falls on Tuesday, Sept. 23 for Wake, Durham, Johnston and Cumberland counties and on Wednesday, Sept. 24 for Lee County.

Wake County health workers will give out Tdap booster vaccinations in 17 of 20 traditional middle schools Tuesday. Appointments with doctors can be arranged through Wake County Human Services; call 919-212-7000. Appointments must be made on or before Oct. 24.

Lee school officials sent warning letters to parents last week and will send out an additional batch next week. Officials said they have worked with the state health department to vaccinate as many students as possible.

"Whether they (parents) have forgotten about it or they think, 'Well, I'll do it sometime,' the date is looming," Owens said.

The immunization requirement changes reflect the growing threat of whopping cough, Owens said. Most children have not had a booster shot for that disease since kindergarten.

After several outbreaks in North Carolina schools last year, health experts realized that the standard 10-year vaccine does not do enough to prevent such outbreaks.

"We're finding there's not that lifelong booster we thought kids would have," Owens said.

The Tdap vaccine requirement also applies to 12-year-old children in private or home schools if it has been at least 5 years since their last Tdap vaccination.

Entering college students must also get the Tdap booster and two doses of the mumps vaccination if it has been at least 10 years since their last tetanus shot.

State law provides for two exemptions to the immunization requirements: medical reasons as determined by a physician and religious objections based on a written statement signed by the parents. Scientific, philosophical and personal beliefs do not qualify for the religious exemption.

Parents may also submit records showing that their children are in the process of getting immunizations.

The new vaccination law also requires kindergartners to to get two doses of the mumps vaccine, instead of one.

40 Comments

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  • nic Sep 22, 2:13 p.m.

    All children should be vaccinated IMO. The people who don't want their kid vaccinated will just sign the religous exemption form and life will go on and if their kid gets the disease from an illegal immigrant who hasn't been vaccinated we'll all hear about it. Just hoping my baby doesn't get anything while I'm bringing him to school to pick up my other children (who are vaccinated as well as myself)

  • ccs1920 Sep 19, 9:22 p.m.

    This is good. I hope that it's strictly enforced.

  • AtALost Sep 19, 9:20 p.m.

    I'm so tired of the "don't punish the child for the sins of the parent" mantra. It certainly doesn't make sense to punish everyone else for the parents' misdeeds. I bet the majority of those who want their un-vaccinated kids around others are the same ones who don't think they should quarantine themselves when they're sick. The epitome of selfishness.

  • theruleoflawrocks Sep 19, 8:19 p.m.

    Our body creates antibodies with "memory": you contract chicken pox as a child but you'll never be infected again. Vaccinations create a "short-term memory" otherwise, booster shots wouldn't be needed.

    Documentaries like "Vaccine Nation", "Vaccination - The Hidden Truth", and "Murder by Injection" tell quite a different story.

    The CDC Vaccination Information Sheets don't report the morbidity rate (the percentage of children who actually contract the virus) and the mortality rate (the number of children who die from the virus).

    Should we vaccinate tens of millions of children if the virus is not deadly (mortality)? What if the mortality is constant regardless of the vaccination rate? What if only hundreds or thousands get sick but fully recover (morbidity)? What if the vaccination causes unwanted side-effects including the death of your child (death is never reported)?

    Often in the US, vaccinated children have contracted the virus they were vaccinated against!

    INFORM YOURSELF!

  • NC Reader Sep 19, 7:51 p.m.

    OhBella -- There are cases where babies/toddlers who are in the process of undergoing the sequence of shots (but who have not completed them) have been infected by unvaccinated children.

  • NC Reader Sep 19, 7:48 p.m.

    Air Biscuit -- This has nothing to do with liberal-conservative labels. Assuming that anyone who holds a belief opposite of yours is "liberal" is simplifying complex political-social opinions. Most people just won't fit neatly in a category. The issue here is vaccination, and on that I totally agree with you.

  • mcchels Sep 19, 7:18 p.m.

    I'd like to know how they are going to know which child has had the booster shot?? No school has asked me for an updated immunization record as of yet. I do agree that the child should not get suspended though. Most children would love to be sent home.

  • smitty Sep 19, 6:44 p.m.

    OhBella, it's because vaccines aren't 100% effective. Every child that isn't vaccinated increases the risk of an outbreak.

  • OhBella Sep 19, 6:21 p.m.

    Why do you care if parents don't vaccinate their children? They aren't going to harm your child if you vaccinate so what is the big deal? Maybe your "abstinance only" child will knock up another teen. Should I tell you how to teach sex to your kid? Let the parent decide.

  • Air Biscuit Sep 19, 6:12 p.m.

    For those of you screaming about your right not to vaccinate your child---take your kid out of the public schools, then!!

    The shots are FREE from your local health department.

    Folks, when you put a big group of kids together in one place, especially a public school, you are inviting airborne, bloodborne, and other forms of disease. Have you been in a school lately? Snotty, runny noses are the common theme...kids with the flu, sinus infections, lung infections---you name it...they all go to school and "spread the joy"!!

    Vaccinate your kids, and stop thinking about your rights, and think about others and their safety.

    ...what a bunch of whining liberals....scream aboutwanting more government control, and then fuss about rights being violated whenever they are asked to help with the safety of others.

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