Health
11:35 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Vaccination Deadline TODAY for many North Carolina Students

For parents of 6th graders across the state,  the deadline has arrived.

Credit Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr Creative Commons

   Sixth graders in North Carolina are required to receive the TDaP vaccine or face possible suspension from school.  The bad news is that, for most students, including those in Guilford and Forsyth counties, the deadline for getting that vaccine is today:  Tuesday September 24th.  Guilford County Schools Health and Counseling Services Director Robin Bergeron-Nolan explained, " The state of North Carolina gives students 30 calendar days from the first day of school to obtain the TDaP vaccine and produce documentation that they've received the vaccine -- and the state indicates that after that 30th day, they cannot return to school without proof or documentation that they've gotten the vaccine."  And since it has been 30 calendar days since the beginning of school, this is it.

Bergeron-Nolan explained that the vaccine protects children and adults from three serious illnesses, "...tetanus, diphtheria, and the 'p' stands for pertussis.  And it's the pertussis that we're lookng for.  It's commonly known as whooping cough -- and you may recall that several years ago, we had an increase in the number of whooping cough cases across the state of North Carolina.  At that time, they put in the requirement for a booster dose in the sixth grade."

The district began notifying parents before summer break.  Since the beginning of this school year, middle schools have provided frequent reminders of the TDaP deadline. Nonetheless there are still some students who have not yet received the vaccine.  As of yesterday, more than 600 students in Guilford County and about 750 students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools were still unvaccinated. 

At this late date, what should parents do to keep their 6th graders in school?  There are a few options left.  The first thing to do would be to contact the family physician, although he or she is likely to be swamped with last-minute vaccination appointments.  And although the county health departments are also solidly booked,  Bergeron-Nolan suggests calling anyway, to see if they might have a cancellation.  And many area pharmacies are also likely to have the vaccine available.