RALEIGH — As children across North Carolina head back to school this month, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reminds families that vaccinations are an important part of back-to-school success and overall health and well-being.
“Vaccines are an essential piece of both child and family health and well-being,” said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist. “We encourage parents and guardians to work with their children’s doctor to make sure their children are current on their childhood vaccines to prevent illness and reduce days missed at school.”
Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as meningitis, measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and others are still seen across North Carolina. Keeping children up to date on vaccinations is the best way to keep them healthy and reduce severe illness and unnecessary absences from school. Children who are uninsured can still be vaccinated at low or no cost through the Vaccines for Children program, which offers free vaccines to eligible children through 19 years of age.
In addition, a new tool will be available this year to help protect the youngest North Carolinians from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the leading cause of hospitalization in the first year of life. CDC is recommending a new immunization starting this fall to help protect all infants under 8 months and some older babies at increased risk of severe illness caused by RSV.
Teens also face unique risks related to communicable diseases.
“Vaccines are one of the most effective means available for preventing the spread of disease,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Public Health. “They help protect the health of children and families as well as the health of the entire community. You can use any health care visit, including for sports physicals, school health assessments, check-ups, and sick visits to receive vaccines.”
NCDHHS encourages all parents to talk with their child’s healthcare provider about recommended vaccinations. During that same visit, parents can talk with their physician about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine for their children ages 6 months and older. Visit MySpot.nc.gov for more information about COVID-19 vaccines. Parents of infants should also talk to their pediatricians about new options for preventing severe RSV.
Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed August as Immunization Awareness Month in North Carolina. Alongside the proclamation, NCDHHS is partnering with health care providers and stakeholders in a statewide awareness campaign to help ensure school-age children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Alongside the proclamation, NCDHHS is partnering with health care providers and stakeholders in a statewide awareness campaign to help ensure school-age children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
More information and resources for parents and guardians is available on the CDC website:
- List of all vaccines required for school attendance, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
- CDC’s immunization catch up schedule.
- Parents unsure which vaccines their children need at any age, can find out what is needed by taking a short quiz on the CDC website.
- Information about the new RSV vaccine to prevent severe disease in infants.
- Additional information on vaccine-preventable diseases and immunizations for North Carolina families available at immunize.nc.gov/family.