North Dakota health officials set new vaccine requirements
FARGO (AP) — North Dakota health officials have unveiled new immunization requirements for children in schools and child care facilities in an effort to increase vaccination rates and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The changes take effect during the 2018 school year and include requiring an additional dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine in grades 11-12.
Lexie Barber, immunization surveillance coordinator at the state health department, said 16- and 17-year-olds in North Dakota have low vaccination rates for the second dose — about 30 percent
“So we decided to make that second dose a requirement to get those rates up,” she told the Bismarck Tribune .
The deadline for students to comply with new requirements or be excluded from school is Oct. 1.
Starting Jan. 1, all children attending child care in the state will need a hepatitis B vaccine. Before, only children starting school needed the vaccine.
The requirement for the whooping cough vaccine, or Tdap, is also being expanded to include grades 7-12. The vaccine was previously required for the seventh grade, but Barber said officials worried that if a student missed it or transferred they wouldn’t be included.
“It was just an oversight leaving out the rest of the grades,” she said.
Barber said 91 percent of seventh-graders had the Tdap vaccine and 90 percent had the meningococcal vaccine in the most recent school year. But Barber said there’s room to improve because the department’s goal is 95 percent.