Metro Schools: 28 percent of middle schoolers haven’t shown proof of immunizations

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(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A week into the new school year, Metro Nashville Public Schools announced Monday just about one third of seventh grade students have not yet shown their proof of immunizations.

“Despite our efforts to inform families of the additional immunizations required for seventh grade, we continue to see large numbers of students arrive without proof they have had these vaccines,” Dr. Tony Majors with Metro Schools said.

According to the district, there are just over 4,600 seventh grade students enrolled. By 8 p.m. Monday, of those students, 1,333 students are non-compliant. That’s 28.33 percent.

“Students and parents have until Wednesday, Aug. 16 to turn in proof of their immunizations. Beginning Thursday, Aug. 17, students will not be allowed to return to school without proof of immunization,” Dr. Majors said.

Bellevue Middle School was not included in the latest update.

The law requires parents to provide an updated Tennessee immunization certificate with proof of two additional immunizations before starting seventh grade.

Those shots include:

  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster (“Tdap”): required regardless of Td history (2013 update)
  • Verification of immunity to varicella; (2 doses or history of disease)

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it’s not uncommon for parents to put it off.

“The summer is so much fun. Somehow, we go to the swimming pool rather than the pediatrician,” said Schaffner. “And now there are an awful lot of children that are being brought into the pediatrician, kind of at the last minute, to get their shots up to date so they can go to school.”

Dr. Schaffner says vaccinations work so well because so many students are immunized.

“Vaccines are good, diseases are bad,” Schaffner said. “We want to protect every child in the community, whether directly through vaccination, or we want to surround them with vaccinated people.”

Students can receive the needed immunizations, or obtain the updated certificate if they have already had the immunizations, from their doctor or, if eligible, from the Metro Public Health Department.

The Health Department clinics are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at Lentz, Woodbine and East locations.

Metro Nashville Public Schools has around 88,000 students enrolled across the district.