COLUMBIA — In a few weeks, South Carolina students will return to school, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reminds parents to be sure vaccines are on their child’s back-to-school list.
Children enrolled in school and child care are required to be current on certain vaccinations at the start of each school year. This helps protect the health of children and teachers in group settings every day, as vaccines are one of the most successful public health interventions for reducing disease spread and preventing complications or death from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Vaccinations are an important part of a normal preventive health regimen,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director. “Keeping our children current on vaccinations for chicken pox, whooping cough, mumps and measles are why we’re able to safely send them to school settings with little risk of exposure to these vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Current vaccination requirements for the 2022-23 school year are available at scdhec.gov/vaccinations.
Updates for this school year include:
• Second-graders are now required to have two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, with both doses received on or after the first birthday and separated by at least six months.
• Eighth-graders are now required to have two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. A child with a positive history of the disease is considered immune and is exempt from this requirement.
• Tenth-graders are now required to have three doses of oral and/or inactivated polio vaccine with at least one dose received on or after the fourth birthday.
None of these are new vaccines, but the existing requirement has been extended to additional grade levels.
DHEC also urges parents not to forget that preteens ages 11-12 are recommended to get a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis), called Tdap, human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningitis vaccines. As of the 2020-21 school year, there has been a new hepatitis A vaccine requirement for children enrolled in child care and kindergarten.
Appointment slots typically fill up quickly in August, so now is the time to call your health-care provider to schedule a well visit and make sure your child is up to date on required and recommended vaccinations. Appointments for certain vaccines, including for flu, pneumonia and tetanus, can also be made at one of DHEC’s county health departments.
Visit scdhec.gov/healthclinics or call DHEC’s Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 to make an appointment.