Vaccines Your Kids Need Before School

Charlotte, N.C. (WJZY) -- The first day of school is quickly approaching and families are rushing to get those last-minute doctor check-ups and vaccines before the bell rings.

"It's important for kids to get vaccines around this time, a week or two before school starts," said Dr. Niraj Patel, a pediatrician at the Levine Children’s Hospital. 

And there are a few new requirements this year.

"The tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis) vaccine is a requirement for 7th grade and beyond if you have not received your tdap vaccine," said Patel. 

That’s just one among a handful of other changes. But some families are opting out.

"He had his vaccination that morning and he got really sick. He had a fever of 105. I was at my parent's house. We were watching a basketball game and he went into a full-blown seizure," said Patricia Linkous. 

In North Carolina you can only opt out of vaccinating your kids for either medical or religious reasons. 
Others, like Patricia Linkous choose an alternate route and homeschool their kids instead of sending them to public school.

"I really believe that it should be optional. We have freedom. It should be up to us. It should be our choice as a parent if we want to vaccinate our children or not," said Linkous. 

But the medical community says opting out could be dangerous to the health of the community at large like last year's outbreak on the west coast.

"I think one of the important examples is the measles outbreak in California. That primarily occurred in children and youth who were not vaccinated or parents who had decided against vaccination for their children," said Patel. 

Kids have to get their shots before the first day of school and show a certificate proving it. If not, parents or guardians will have to present proof within a month in order to keep their children in school.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is planning a couple of vaccination events on Saturdays during September. Those dates have not been finalized.

Full list of new requirements and updated immunization requirements for your child.

North Carolina Requirements

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Places you can get vaccinations

South Carolina Requirements