As the new academic year gets started, the state Department of Health is reminding parents to update shots.
New school years are beginning – or are about to begin – across the country and in North Dakota, the Department of Health (NDDoH) is reminding parents of the importance of back to school vaccines. There is a law that requires children to have up to date immunizations from kindergarten through twelfth grade and the NDDoH is making sure this can happen regardless of whether or not the child has health insurance.
The NDDoH launched a campaign near the start of August to get kids immunized before classes start.
“Ensuring children are up to date on immunizations is the best way to keep students healthy and stop the spread of infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, and pertussis in our schools,” explained epidemiologist Jenny Galbraith from the NDDoH. “Children who are not immunized are not only at risk of becoming ill from a variety of diseases, but are also able to transmit diseases to others, including those who may not be able to be vaccinated due to various medical conditions.”
That said, the department is also making efforts to ensure that all children can afford to receive their back to school vaccines. The first step they are recommending is to check with a health care provider in order to know precisely which vaccinations the child requires. Once all the shots have been given and the child is up to date, request a copy of the immunization record. This must be presented to the child’s school so his or her academic file can be updated.
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Children can receive the back to school vaccines at no cost if they are uninsured or underinsured.
The NDDoH recognizes that not all children have health insurance. Moreover, even among those who do have a health plan, not all parents can afford deductibles associated with obtaining vaccinations. Therefore, parents of kids for whom cost is a barrier to immunization can use the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) to receive necessary vaccinations at no cost to the families. Parents who believe their kids qualify for free immunizations through the VCF can contact their health care providers or local public health units to determine if they are indeed eligible.
North Dakota kids who don’t receive their back to school vaccines or who don’t have a signed exemption form by October 1, 2019 will no longer meet school requirements. They will not be permitted to attend classes or other education or extra-curricular services through the schools until their immunizations are up to date.