The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 16, 2012

WVDE chief reports nearly all students are immunized

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Education has announced a 99.85 statewide compliance rate regarding new immunizations requirements for seventh- and 12th-graders.

Data collected by the state shows that 35 of 55 counties reported 100 percent compliance. That’s nearly 39,000 students, according to a press release.

“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.”

Seventh-graders must show proof of a booster dose of Tdap and a MCV4 vaccine (meningitis), she said.

Twelfth-graders must also show proof of a Tdap and a booster dose of MCV4 if the first dose was given before the child’s 16th birthday. No booster is needed if the dose was given after age 16.

The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough. Whooping cough is a very contagious disease that can last for up to and more than 10 weeks. 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.

According to the WVDE press release, 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.

— E-mail: splummer@regsiter-herald.com

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