CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - First graders will now be required to have two doses of the chickenpox vaccine before the start of the new school year.
That's one of the changes listed by the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control for students this school year because doctors say schools were still seeing symptoms in children who only had a single dose.
"We really just want to emphasize the greatest concerns are with vaccine preventable diseases in schools and childcare settings," Dr. Linda Bell of DHEC says. "The biggest problems that we've seen recently have been with pertussis, or whooping cough, with the flu and with the chickenpox. And the fact that there are vaccines available to prevent those illnesses just shouldn't be forgotten. And the consequences of those diseases shouldn't be minimized."
Third graders must now have three doses of oral or inactivated Polio vaccine with at least one received on or after the child's fourth birthday.
Seventh and ninth graders must also have a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough) booster, although a dose administered on or after the seventh birthday will meet this requirement.
Charleston County School District is asking parents to make an appointment with their doctors or local health care providers so their children can receive this immunization by August 31.
"Vaccinations are an important tool to help protect our students from preventable diseases and serious illness," said Melissa Prendergast, CCSD Director of Nursing Services. "While a large majority of students have already been vaccinated, students in seventh grade who have not received the vaccine or have not scheduled an appointment to receive it will not be allowed to remain in school after August 31."
Eleventh graders will have to have a fourth dose of of the Tdap booster.
Also, students must now have received a third dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine at at least 24 weeks of age and at least 16 weeks after the first dose.
All of the required vaccines must be taken by the first day of school.
Click here for the full list of DHEC vaccine requirements.