(The following information is from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.)
CHARLOTTE, NC - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is partnering with the Mecklenburg County Health Department to make sure all families are aware of the vaccinations students must have before Aug. 25, the first day of the 2009-2010 school year.
CMS and the health department held a news conference at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday, March 27, to explain the need for families to schedule vaccination appointments early. More than 23,000 CMS students need to see a medical practitioner for physicals and/or vaccinations before Aug. 25, 2009. That includes a required physical and childhood vaccinations for 3,000 pre-kindergarten and 9,000 kindergarten students, as well as the Tdap booster shot, which is required for all 11,000 fifth-grade students before they are allowed to begin sixth grade.
"Look around this arena," said Nancy Langenfeld, director of coordinated school health for CMS. "More CMS students need to visit a doctor's office or clinic before school starts than would fit inside Time Warner Cable Arena."
The arena's maximum seating capacity is about 22,200 people - 800 fewer seats than there are CMS students who need to see a doctor. The numbers are overwhelming.
"Families need to make their appointments early," said Maria Bonaiuto, director of school health for the Mecklenburg County Health Department. "If families wait until this summer to schedule appointments, there are not enough slots available across Mecklenburg County to ensure all students will be seen before the deadline."
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are required to have a physical and must be current on all childhood vaccinations. A booster shot called Tdap is required for all students who are entering the sixth grade and who have not had a booster shot containing tetanus in the past five years. The Tdap vaccine provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Students who do not have the required vaccinations may be excluded from school until they are compliant.
In order to help families who need vaccinations, the health department is holding two free Tdap immunization clinics during CMS' spring break. The first clinic is on Tuesday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the health department location on 249 Billingsley Road. The second clinic is on Thursday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 2845 Beatties Ford Road location. Families do not need to make an appointment, but they should bring their child's shot record.