UPDATE: New Vaccine May Cause Side Effects; Benefits Outweigh Risks

By: Carrie Cline Email
By: Carrie Cline Email

UPDATE 1/25/12 @ 6 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- With new shots come new worries as West Virginia implements new immunizations for students going into the seventh and twelfth grades.

As with anything new, there are always concerns. But, regardless of any worries about the shots, they're not a suggestion; they're mandatory.

A local family had a scary brush with one of the shots and just wants others to be aware.

This is a cautionary tale. It's from a mother who recognizes the importance of getting her children vaccinated. But that didn't erase the fright when she watched her son have a strong reaction to the meningitis vaccine.

“He slumped over and his arms started shaking and his eyes got real big,” Wendy Terry said.

That’s what Terry witnessed when her son, a Huntington High School junior, got the meningitis vaccine.

“It scared us to death," she said. "Oh my gosh, I thought he was going to die."

But, as fast as it all happened, it was over. Her son quickly recovered.

“Passing out can come as a result of any shot. A seizure can also result, but it's not serious,” Dr. Harry Tweel with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department said.

Tweel stresses, though, that this is certainly a case where the benefits outweigh the risks -- especially when it comes to this deadly form of meningitis.

“It starts out looking like the flu and within 6 to 8 hours, you lose blood clotting or your blood starts to clot too much and you lose limbs, lose brain function,” Tweel said.

But, unlike recommended vaccines like the flu shot, parents can't opt out of this one. It's required.

“The only way to opt out at this point is to home school,” Dr. Tweel said.

That wasn't an option for Moore. She's the assistant director at the YMCA Childcare Center in Huntington and knows the importance of children getting vaccinated.

“I would do it again because I think it far outweighs getting the virus. I mean a kid could die from it,” Moore said.

She has three sons that had to get the shots, including one who had to get it after watching his brother's serious reaction. But, she said she made sure he got it anyway, and he was fine. The other son had no reaction either.

To review, West Virginia has implemented new requirements for incoming seventh and twelfth-graders this fall that mean the meningitis shot and a booster that guards against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Without it, students can't go to school.

For more questions, parents can contact their child's school or local health department.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For some students in West Virginia, preparing for the new school year will include getting a new round of shots.

We're not talking just the young children anymore. Now, incoming seventh and twelfth-graders will also have to get immunized.

The new vaccinations are required starting with the 2012-2013 school year, and it's all about public safety.

Benjamin and David King do just about everything together. The sixth- grade twins play video games together, attend school together and in the coming months will get a round of newly required vaccines together. Their mother just learned about the shots last month.

“I was thinking I hadn't heard anything about it, but if that's what's required to help them,” Beverly King said.

The West Virginia Health Board is working on an aggressive campaign to get the word out that starting with the coming school year new shots will be required for seventh and twelfth-graders.

“I really am concerned because in West Virginia we have never required immunizations for anything other than entry into pre-k and entry into kindergarten. So, this is a dramatic departure,” said Brenda Isaac with the West Virginia Health Board.

For incoming seventh-graders, that means a booster of the tDap which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. And for the first time, they'll also need a meningitis vaccine.

Incoming twelfth-graders must show proof they've had the tDap, plus have to get a booster of the meningitis vaccine if their first dose was before their 16th birthday.

“The tDap- we're seeing an increase in pertussis among adolescents and that can be deadly," Isaac said. "Kids are immunized when they start school, but we're finding it's starting to wane by the time they're 11."

The meningitis vaccine will combat the very deadly bacterial meningitis that can kill quickly.

“These are all safe immunizations and are preferable to the actual illness,” Isaac said. “I think it will be a little of a hassle because will have to go to the health department."

Either a wellness visit to the child's regular doctor or a visit to the health department -- the vaccines will become a regular part of life for these groups of students starting now.

The meningitis vaccine will guard against the deadly bacterial form that's not seen often, but when it is, it can kill quickly. For any questions about the new requirements, contact your local health department.

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