PARKERSBURG - About 20 Wood County Schools students were turned away Monday morning because they lacked state-required vaccinations.
Another 50 students lacking the vaccinations did not go to school Monday, said Teresa Morehead, coordinator of health services for Wood County Schools.
"We had about 70 students total who did not have the up-to-date vaccination records turned in," she said. "We are working diligently with those families to make sure the students have the proper vaccinations."
Beginning school year 2012-13, proof of Tdap and meningitis shots are required for grades 7 and 12. A second meningitis shot is required for 12th grade if the first dose was before age 16. Nearly 1,000 middle school students and 900 high school students in Wood County Schools were required to get the immunizations for this fall.
The 70 non-compliant students were almost equally divided between seventh- and 12th-grade students, she said.
The largest number of non-compliant students Monday was at Parkersburg High School, the district's largest school. Morehead said the school had about 29 seniors who did not have the proper vaccination records to attend school.
Morehead said numbers at all of the schools were dropping throughout the day Monday as students were referred to the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department and updated records were sent to the school district. Morehead said she hoped the majority, if not all, of the students would be back in classes today.
The numbers were down significantly from more than a week ago when the district had some 370 seventh- and 12th-grade students without the proper vaccinations.
Monday marked the end of a two-week grace period to receive the vaccinations.
Although Tdap and meningococcal vaccinations are required for entry into seventh and 12th grades, they are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for adolescents beginning at age 11. Parents are encouraged to have their children immunized after they turn 11, rather than wait until right before the start of seventh or 12th grades, to ensure their child is fully protected from these vaccine-preventable diseases throughout their adolescence.
The meningococcal vaccine prevents bacterial meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a serious bacterial infection. This infection can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, amputations and even death.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis is very contagious and can last for 10 weeks or more. If pertussis is transmitted to infants, it can be life-threatening. Young children are protected when they get the DTaP vaccine, but protection wears off as kids get older, so adolescents need the Tdap vaccination.
National officials say there has been a rise in pertussis cases, also known as whooping cough, not seen since the 1940s. Officials say infants are the most likely to be infected by teens and adults because the vaccine can wear off over time and babies cannot be vaccinated until they are at least two months of age.