All of the students in five of Johnson County’s six public school districts have updated their shots and won’t have to miss any more school.
Last month, more than 300 students across the county hadn’t received all the vaccinations they needed or made appointments to get them.
Most of those were sixth-graders who hadn’t met requirements updated in 2010 that mandated students in Grades 6 through 12 receive additional tetanus/pertussis and meningococcal shots.
About 100 Clark-Pleasant students missed school in October because they didn’t have all of the required vaccinations by the school district’s deadline, and it took about two days for all of those students to receive the shots or schedule appointments. At the end of October, Edinburgh had about 50 students who hadn’t received all their shots or made appointments to get them.
Edinburgh set a Nov. 1 deadline for students to either get the vaccinations or schedule appointments, and director of health services Amy Dukes spent the last week of October making phone calls and sending letters to families of students who hadn’t proved they had all of the shots needed.
The follow-ups worked. All Edinburgh students received the vaccinations or made appointments by the deadline.
Students at Center Grove, Greenwood and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson all have received the shots they need, according to health service directors Carla Slauter and Libby Cruzan and Superintendent Matt Prusiecki.
At Franklin, students have until the start of next semester to get vaccinated.
“We try really hard to work with students at the beginning of school, and then it becomes where we don’t want them to get behind academically,” health services coordinator Beth Arkanoff said.
About a month ago, 180 Franklin students hadn’t gotten all of the vaccinations they needed or made appointments to get the shots. That meant Arkanoff needed to contact students and families to ensure they received the shots before the second semester starts in January, otherwise they won’t be allowed to return to school.
Franklin students who have appointments scheduled to receive the vaccinations will be allowed at school next semester, but Arkanoff wants all students to have received the shots, not just scheduled appointments.
“It’s pretty much a full-time job for the first semester. It’s one of our main focuses in the health department,” she said.
School district nurses and health coordinators hope online records and earlier preparation will help them make sure all students have their shots.
Recently medical offices have begun uploading vaccination records into an online database, and with parents’ permission schools can access the database to see if students’ shots are up to date. Dukes hopes that, as more records are entered into the database, confirming students have gotten their vaccinations won’t take as much time.
At the end of the year, Dukes will start sending letters to the parents of Edinburgh fifth-graders, letting them know of the vaccination requirements and telling them to make sure their students get the shots and their records are updated.
Franklin typically sends vaccination reminders between May and July, but Arkanoff plans to start early next semester. That way parents will have more time to make appointments, she said.
“I hope it gets better next year,” she said.