Health Team

NC immunization requirements take effect in July

Posted June 25, 2015 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2015 5:47 p.m. EDT

Kids are enjoying the summer now, but it's not too early for parents to begin planning for the start of school.

Modified vaccine requirements go into effect in the state on Wednesday. Families will have 30 days to comply after the first day of school.

Even though new immunization requirements for North Carolina take effect on July 1, families with young children have been lining up for the vaccine around the Triangle area.

“For seventh-graders or 12-year-olds—whichever comes first—kids have to have the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, the MCV,” said Gail Harris, director of the Durham County health department. “They have to have that to get into the seventh grade or when they become 12.”

Harris says the Tdap vaccine is now required for seventh-graders, or 12-year-olds, instead of for sixth-graders as it was in the past.

Tdap is a combination vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis—also known as whooping cough.

“Polio vaccines, ideally, that would be given at age 4, but they must get it before they become kindergartners,” Harris said.

The chickenpox vaccine, also known as Varicella, must be given in two doses, at least 28 days apart. The first dose is on, or after, 12 months of age but before 19 months of age. The second dose must be administered by age 4, before entering school. A 30-day grace period begins on the first day of school.

According to Harris, children will be suspended by school if they do not receive immunization after the 30-day grace period.

“There are certain exemptions, but because we've seen certain re-emerging diseases like measles and polio in different parts of the country, public health officials want to strictly enforce vaccination requirements,” WRAL News heath expert Dr. Allen Mask said. “Talk to your doctor or local health department about your child's vaccination needs.”

For more information and questions about the changes, visit the North Carolina immunization website.