Local News

Nash County sixth-graders suspended after not getting vaccine

Posted September 26, 2013 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2013 9:36 p.m. EDT

— Sixth-graders in Nash County have been suspended after a state deadline that requires them to be immunized for certain bacterial illnesses passed Wednesday.

North Carolina law requires students entering the sixth grade be immunized for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis by the start of the school year and provides a 30-day grace period.

School started Aug. 26 for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, where at one point 198 out of the 1,148 students had not received the immunization.

"Of course, this is impacting their access to instruction, and we don't want that to happen, but we have to comply with the state law," said school system spokeswoman Ashley Simmons.

Simmons said parents were given notice as early as a year ago about the vaccination requirement, which has been part of state law since 2008.

"There are regular meetings with parents," she said. "We send home letters. We send fliers. We send post cards. We even make personal phone calls."

Denise Pridgen, whose nephew, Timmy Smith, was among the 198 students in Nash-Rocky Mount schools who was suspended said she got busy and forgot.

Some parents reported that they were unable to meet the deadline because the Nash County Health Department had run out of the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for the health department said Thursday that there is a shortage statewide but that it had a supply Thursday.

It's unclear the number of sixth-graders elsewhere in the area who also don't meet state requirements.

A representative for Johnston County Schools said Thursday that 268 students out of the district's 2,765 sixth-graders had not received the vaccination.

They, however, have until Friday to receive the shot.