Back-to-school vaccinations urged

By Amanda Moss

May 8, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Health Department will be offering vaccinations to children entering kindergarten or sixth-grade this fall.

Tommy Jarrell, health director of Richmond County, said that it is a necessary requirement for students entering kindergarten and sixth-grade to be updated on all required vaccinations before beginning school on August. Also, those children entering kindergarten are required to have a physical before the start of school.

Jarrell said that if a child has not finished received completely all the required vaccinations under state law 30 days after the start of school, the child will be dismissed.

To make the process easier for parents, the health department, located at 127 Caroline St. in Rockingham, is offering an open clinic on May 15, June 10 and Aug. 19. The clinics will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at night and no appointment is necessary.

“We’re encouraging parents to go ahead and take care of this as soon as possible,” Jarrell said. “The closer it gets to the start of school, the harder it will be to obtain the vaccinations on time. It’s our goal to have every child meet the requirements before the start of school.”

Kids entering kindergarten must have a series of vaccinations, but those entering the sixth-grade need the Tdap vaccine.

“We’re trying to open up opportunities so that parents can get them done ahead of time,” Jarrell said.

While the health department is trying to make the vaccinations available to everyone, it will not be offering the physicals that are required for children entering kindergarten. Those will need to be done through the child’s care provider.

Because North Carolina is no longer a universal vaccine state, not every child will obtain the shots for free. However, there will be no charge for Medicaid eligible children (who bring their Medicaid cards), uninsured children, American Indians, Alaskan Natives or those who have insurance that will not pay for vaccines.

Children who are covered with private insurance should bring their insurance cards when obtaining the vaccine. The health department only accepts the following private insurance: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C., MedCost, Cigna Healthcare, Wells Fargo, United Healthcare, First Carolina Care, Medicaid of N.C. and Medicaid Healthchoice of N.C.

“Of course, parents can always make an appointment for their child if they prefer to come on a different day,” Jarrell said.

To schedule an appointment with the Richmond County Health Care Department, residents may call 910-997-8229 or stop by at 127 Caroline St. in Rockingham. The department’s regular business hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.