The new school year will be here before you know it and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) would like to remind parents to make sure their children are up to date on immunizations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of doses of vaccine administered in the state decreased as parents were keeping their children home and providers were responding to COVID-19.
“It will likely be months before a COVID-19 vaccine is available. In the meantime, we have safe and effective vaccines available for many preventable diseases—but they will only work if we use them,” said Jenny Galbraith, epidemiologist with the NDDoH.
North Dakota state law requires students in grades kindergarten through 12 to meet a minimum number of required immunizations before they are allowed to attend school. The NDDoH is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated now, rather than waiting until right before school starts or before COVID-19 may increase in the fall.
“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 Galbraith. “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.”
If you haven’t done so, 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 at health.nd.gov/immunize.
Cost should not be a barrier to getting children up to date on immunizations. Children who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines can receive vaccine at no cost through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. 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 October 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 health.nd.gov/immunize.