North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia today urged parents to immunize their children and other adult family members against infectious diseases such as pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, which continues to be on the rise across the country. School aged children have only weeks to receive the shots they need before going back to school. In North Carolina schools, immunization records are checked at the beginning of each school year, with a special emphasis at the start of kindergarten and at the start of sixth grade.
Secretary Delia also stressed that older family members often serve as carriers of pertussis and can easily spread it to vulnerable infants and young children, so they should be immunized as well. Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others.
August not only marks the beginning of school for most in North Carolina, but it is also recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month.
“Back to school time is a good opportunity to see that everyone in your household is up to date on required vaccinations,” Delia said. “We have seen a dramatic increase in pertussis cases in North Carolina and across the country this year, so we need a community-wide effort to prevent further spread of the disease.”
More than 366 cases of pertussis have been reported in North Carolina since the beginning of the outbreak in November 2011. Secretary Delia today visited the health department in Alamance County, which alone has seen 153 cases.
In response to the increase in whooping cough cases outbreak, DHHS has made the Tdap vaccine available to anyone at no cost for a limited time. In addition to pertussis, all school children in North Carolina must be vaccinated against:
- Hepatitis B
- Hib Disease
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Some children through the age of 18 are eligible to receive their immunizations at no cost through the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program which provides vaccines to those who are Medicaid eligible, American Indian or Alaskan Native, uninsured or underinsured. There is no fee for the cost of the VFC vaccine for eligible children; however a provider may charge an administrative fee.
More details on school immunization requirements in North Carolina, as well as details about the VFC program can be found by visiting the North Carolina Immunization Branch Website at www.immunize.nc.gov.
Please contact Lorie Rose, Yadkin County Health Department Immunization Coordinator, at 336 679 4203 ext 7591 for additional immunization information .