Lack of inoculation may keep some Midlands students home

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 24, 2013 

A number of Midlands seventh-graders may miss class soon because their parents haven’t done health care homework for their children.

Schools are scrambling to make sure families know of a new vaccination requirement, with deadlines for compliance continuing, the latest being Oct. 14 in Richland 2.

The new standard requires that seventh-graders show proof of a TDAP booster shot received after turning age 7 as a safeguard against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Overall, nearly 1,900 students from five districts – Kershaw County, Lexington 1, Leixngton 2, Lexington 3, Lexington 4, Lexington-Richland 5, Richland 1 and Richland 2 – have yet to meet the requirement ahead of their district deadlines, according to totals through Thursday.

Failure to show that proof means a youngster can’t go to class.

“It’s important protection from these dangerous illnesses,” said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. State health officials so far have vaccinated 4,700 youngsters statewide, he said Wednesday.

The vaccination – matching what federal health officials recommend – threatens to affect attendance a year after it came into place, as Midlands school officials are ending extensions to meet the requirement.

In Lexington 3, more than half – 107 of 167 students – have not yet met the goal.

Many may have had the shot but need to provide documents showing that, school spokeswoman Judy Turner Fox said, while some parents remain unfamiliar with the demand despite several notices.

In Kershaw County, 181 of 811 students have not met the standard, as the Sept. 30 deadline approaches.

That is “still have too many students who are out of compliance,” superintendent Frank Morgan said.

Some schools, such as Kershaw County, Lexington 1 and Lexington 2, are sponsoring clinics to provide inoculations.

The deadline in Lexington-Richland 5 and Richland 1 varies, with a student given 30 days once school officials learn of no proof of vaccination.

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