RSS suspends 29 for not getting booster shots

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
More than 30 sixth-graders were suspended Wednesday in Rowan County and Kannapolis for not having gotten a booster immunization.
In the Rowan-Salisbury School System, principals suspended 29 sixth-graders, said Dr. Walter Hart, assistant superintendent for administration. A few more students who weren’t up-to-date with the Tdap booster didn’t show up at school Wednesday, he said.
Two sixth-graders were suspended in the Kannapolis City Schools system, spokeswoman Ellen Boyd said. Another eight students did not show up, she said.
A new state law required schools to suspend sixth-graders starting Wednesday who did not show proof of the vaccination. Students were not suspended if they showed proof that they had scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get the vaccination.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
Students will not be allowed to return to school until proof is verified.
“We’re not happy about having to suspend 29 kids,” Hart said. “But we are in better shape than we were a few days ago.”
About 80 sixth-graders in the Rowan-Salisbury system hadn’t had the vaccination as of Tuesday, he said.
Earlier this month, the Rowan-Salisbury system’s lead school nurse, Susan Thomas, said about half of the sixth-graders were not up-to-date. Thomas and Hart said they were nervous about the looming deadline.
“It’s human nature to procrastinate,” Hart said.
Boyd said she hopes parents of incoming sixth-graders next year and following years will be sure to get their children vaccinated during regular checkups.
“Hopefully people will kind of get used to it,” Boyd said.