Tuesday, Sept. 25 was the last day for Guilford County Schools seventh-graders to attend school without having had two vaccinations. Beginning Sept. 26, 2018, students who show up for school without the state-mandated shots will be sent home. State law requires students to have the meningococcal conjugate vaccination (MCV) and the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster vaccination by the 30th day after the start of classes. Every year, some students have to be turned away. The school system has reduced that number drastically since the state requirement was implemented, although it has been creeping up over the last three years. On the 31st day of classes in the 2017-2018 school year, 178 seventh-grade students, or 4 percent, were sent home. For the 2016-2017 school year, 128, or 3 percent were sent home. For the 2015-2016 school year, 80 students, a mere 1 percent, were sent home. As is usual, parents can have students vaccinated at their doctor’s offices. They can also have them vaccinated from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services immunization clinics at 1100 East Wendover Ave. in Greensboro and 501 E. Green Dr. in High Point. Parents who opt to get their children immunized at the county clinics must bring their children’s immunization records. The county may charge fees for the shots. It charges no upfront fees for families with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United HealthCare and will file insurance claims with other insurers for parents. Parents who don’t have insurance through those two companies will have to pay the full cost of the vaccination at the clinics. Parents can schedule appointments by calling (336) 641-3245. The number of children sent home for not having shots has grown since the 2015-2016 school year because the state that year changed the law, switching the Tdap shot from sixth grade to seventh grade and adding the new MCV vaccine. Many seventh-graders that year were already covered because they had the Tdap vaccine the year before. According to Guilford County Schools spokeswoman Nora Shoptaw, the school system this year attempted to increase the percentage of students getting the shots by the deadline. The school system set up immunization clinics in each middle school in April, and increased the number of voicemail reminders sent to parents. The middle-school clinics were voluntary, and parents had to sign permission ships for their children to get shots at school. The school system sent children home with county health department flyers to remind parents on Sept. 18, 2018. At the same time, the school system also directly called parents whose children who had not been vaccinated.

Paul Clark

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