Vaccinations Still Needed for Polk County Students

DES MOINES, Iowa -- About 40 percent of students  in Polk County, still need to get the meningococcal vaccination in order to attend the 2017 school year.

Back in February the Iowa Senate passed a bill to require all entering seventh and 12th graders to receive the meningitis shot by the shot of the new school year.

Polk County Health Educator, Nola Ainger said that if a student who falls into the age group does not have the shot before the first day of school, they will not be allowed inside.

“This does not only mean school, but it means no sport practices, no choir practices, no band practices, no extra curricular activities such as dances,” Ainger said.

Seventh graders need the shot on or after their 10th birthday, and 12th graders need it on or after their 16th birthday.

Children are able to receive a waiver from the vaccination if he or she has either a medical or religious reason.

Aigner said that the student would need a doctor’s note for why he or she cannot get the vaccine due to a medical condition. Students wishing to opt out, because their religion does not believe in the vaccine will have to go through a different process.

Parents without health insurance have options as to how they can get their kids vaccinated.

“You can come to the Polk County Health Department and you can make an appointment and we have the VFC program, which is the vaccines for children program, and this vaccine will be provided to children at little or no cost,” Ainger said.

Ainger said parents who have not yet taken their children to get the shot need to make appointments, because doctors offices are filling up quickly.

If a parent is unsure that their child has had the vaccine or not, call his or her doctor to find out.

Parents should sent the immunization certificate to either the school nurse or administration office.

According to the Des Moines Public Schools website, about 10-15 percent of people with meningococcal disease die, even with the right treatment.

Polk County schools will begin on August 23rd.