Sampson Independent

Health care officials urge vaccinations

Whether your child is starting kindergarten or entering middle school, local healthcare officials are urging parents to make sure their child is protected from certain vaccine-preventable disease.

According to Jo Ellen Naylor, RN, with the Sampson County Health Department, any child moving to North Carolina or entering a school system in the state is required to be up to date on all vaccinations, and students entering seventh grade or turning 12 years old must receive their booster dose of the Tdap vaccine and a dose of the Meningococcal vaccine.

While most parents remember to keep their babies and young children vaccinated, Naylor said they often forget about keeping preteens and teens up to date on their immunizations.

While some of the vaccinations are required, others are recommended by healthcare officials.

Required vaccinations

The Tdap vaccine is a required vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. According to Naylor, The Tdap vaccine is required for children entering 7th grade or by 12 years of age, whichever comes first, if the child has not previously received a booster dose.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection spread by respiratory secretions from coughing and sneezing. It can be spread by living in close quarters and by kissing. Naylor said the meningococcal vaccine is required for preteens and teens. One dose is required for a child starting 7th grade or by 12 years of age, whichever comes first. A second dose will be required for children starting the 12th grade or by 17 years of age beginning Aug. 1, 2020. A second dose is highly recommended now for children going to a college or university especially when living in a dorm.

“It is very important for your child to be up to date on immunizations,” Naylor said. “Under North Carolina law, all school children must be up to date on their immunizations within 30 days of entering school.”

Recommended vaccines

Influenza, or flu, is a very contagious viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. According to Naylor, the flu vaccine should be given every year at the beginning of flu season.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is passed through sexual contact. It commonly affects people in their teens and early 20’s. The HPV vaccine should be given to boys and girls beginning at age 11. The HPV vaccine is a two or three dose series, depending on the age of the child when the series is started.

“Whether a vaccine is recommended or required, all children should receive all age appropriate immunizations,” Naylor urged. “Most insurance companies pay for immunizations. If a child is not covered by insurance or is underinsured, there is a program called Vaccines for Children (VFC) that is federally funded that pays for children’s vaccines.”

Local healthcare officials are urging parents to keep their children up to date on their vaccinations. healthcare officials are urging parents to keep their children up to date on their vaccinations. File photo

By Kristy D. Carter

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.