COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Back to school or back to germs?
August is "National Immunization Awareness Month," according to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. The goal is to not only remind parents of kids headed back to school about the importance or children getting immunized, but to also remind adults and seniors, too.
Dr. Anna-Kathryn Burch, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Palmetto Health USC Medical group, said they've seen an uptick in pertussis, also known as "whooping cough", which is a highly contagious respiratory disease.
"What happens is somebody maybe in their home or out in public may have pertussis and the infant can come in contact with it," Dr. Burch said. "And the infant gets very very ill and gets hospitalized and can die."
In an effort to curb those diagnoses, the Tdap booster, which is a combined booster vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, is now required for 11th-graders as they head back to school.
It's one of the updates SCDHEC is highlighting in immunization requirements for the 2017-2018 school year:
Third-grade has been added to the requirement for (2) doses of varicella. A child with a positive history of the disease is considered immune and is exempt from this requirement.
Fifth-grade has been added to the requirement for three (3) doses of oral and/or inactivated polio vaccine with at least one (1) dose received on or after the fourth birthday.
Eleventh-grade has been added to the requirement for (1) Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster. Tdap is routinely administered at 11-12 years of age; however, a dose administered on or after the seventh birthday will meet this requirement.
Dr. Burch said that specific booster shot is incredibly vital to the health and well-being of those around your child.
"Without that vaccine booster, their child could potentially be spreading an infection that could be harmful to someone."
Records of your child's vaccination must be maintained by the school that the child attends, and there are minimum immunization requirements for a child to be admitted to any public, private, or parochial school, grades K-12.
There are exemptions to vaccination requirements: including a medical exemption, a religious exemption as well as a "special exemption." A special exemption "may be issued by the school to a student that has been unable to secure immunizations or documentation of immunizations already received. This exemption is only valid for 30 calendar days for the current enrollment and by be issued only once."