2010-07-17 / News

Vaccination requirements changed for seventh graders

By Kim Garee

COLUMBUS - Backpack ... check. Lunch box ... check. Updated immunization record ... better check, parents. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced a required vaccine for all seventh graders for the 2010-11 school year to help guard against pertussis.

Cases of pertussis - commonly known as whooping cough - nearly doubled in Ohio in 2009, which saw nearly 1,100 cases reported in the state. Jen House of ODH said the rise is thought to be due to initial immunizations wearing off, leading to reduced immunity ... especially amongst middle-schoolers.

“That’s the group with the biggest increase of cases,” House said. “By getting kids a booster, you’re raising their immunity from the mid-80s to between 95 and 99 percent.”

The specific requirement is either a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine or a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster before entering the seventh grade. ODH recommends the Tdap vaccine because it protects against pertussis.

Pertussis is a severe respiratory illness that causes violent, rapid coughing that can last for extended periods of time. “Certainly it can be dangerous, but it’s mostly very uncomfortable and keeps kids out of school for a long time,” House said. “Also, these immunizations help protect the whole population. Infants too young for the vaccine, for example, can easily contract it from an infected person.”

ODH recommends a checkup with your child’s medical practitioner that would include the vaccine.

Both the Fairfield and Licking County health departments have scheduled special clinics to address the new requirement.

Fairfield County

The Fairfield Department of Health is offering walk-in clinics for students needing a Tdap booster shot in order to enter seventh grade in the fall. Clinic dates and times are:

• August 28 from 9 am to noon;

• August 31 from 4 – 7 pm;

• September 11 from 9 am to noon.

The Tdap shot clinics are being held at Ohio University, Lancaster in the theatre. No appointment is necessary. The fee for the shot is $10 or you must bring your Medicaid card (including those with CareSource and Molina). Cash or checks are acceptable from non-Medicaid families. No charge cards are accepted. A receipt will be provided for families who have private insurance vaccine coverage so they can get insurance reimbursement.

Please note that if a child has had a TD (tetanus) shot after their tenth birthday, a Tdap booster is not needed for school at this time. Documentation will have to be provided to the school nurse.

Licking County

In order to accommodate the needs of working parents, the Licking County Health Department is offering Thursday evening walk-in clinics from 5:00- 7:30 pm at the Licking County Health Department at 675 Price Rd., Newark. Besides August 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th, there will be a clinic September 2nd at the same location. The regular immunization clinics during the daytime will also remain available at the health department, Monday 2-4, Tuesday 1:30-3:30, Wednesday mornings by appointment, Thursday 10-11:30 & 1-3:30.

The Buckeye Lake immunization clinic is held the first Wednesday of every month at Mt. Carmel Church in Buckeye Lake, 5133 Walnut Road from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m.

On Monday, August 16th, a back-to-school clinic will be held in Western Licking County at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 7714 Hazelton-Etna Rd. (SR 310), Pataskala, OH.

Parents need to bring a current shot record for their child to the clinic if they have gotten previous vaccines at other providers. There is a small clinic fee; however, no one will be denied service due to inability to pay. Medicaid is accepted as payment in full. For questions, call the health department at 740-349-6535.

In addition to the new requirements for seventh graders, students entering kindergarten are also now required to have a second dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and to have had the final dose of their polio vaccine before entering the 2010-11 school year.

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