Make sure immunizations are on your back-to-school to-do list

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Immunization

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) would like to remind parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on immunizations for school entry next fall.

North Dakota state law requires students in grades kindergarten through 12 to meet a minimum number of required immunizations before entering school. The NDDoH is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated now, rather than waiting until right before school starts or before COVID-19 vaccine becomes available for children and adolescents.

“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,” said Jenny Galbraith, epidemiologist with 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.”

A COVID-19 vaccine will not be required for school but will likely be available for children and adolescents in the near future. COVID-19 vaccine cannot be administered at the same time as other vaccines. “It’s important that parents get their children up-to-date with routine immunizations now, so they are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn,” said Galbraith.

Check with your health care provider to find out which vaccines your child needs. Once your child is up-to-date, be sure to get a copy of his or her immunization record to submit to the school. You can find more information about which vaccines are required for school on the NDDoH website.

Cost should not be a barrier to getting children up-to-date on immunizations. Children who are American Indian, on Medicaid, uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines can receive vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). Contact your health care provider or local public health unit if you believe your child could be eligible for VFC vaccines.

Children who are not in compliance, either up-to-date or have a signed exemption form, by Oct. 1 will be excluded from school for not meeting requirements.

For more information on school immunization requirements, contact Jenny Galbraith, NDDoH, at 701.328.2378, or visit our website at https://www.health.nd.gov/immunize

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