North Carolina

Young students without vaccinations suspended from North Carolina school district

Three students were suspended from school after missing a deadline to get vaccinated, North Carolina officials say.

It came after Pitt County Schools sent warnings to almost 300 kids who hadn’t been immunized, according to an email from Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman for the district.

A trio of elementary students who didn’t comply were suspended, she wrote Tuesday to McClatchy news group.

As of last week, the kids were on “medical suspension,” which is not a disciplinary action, according to school officials.

“Students are allowed to make up assignments or missed work in the rare case a student is not permitted to come to school,” she says.

Johnson says the district adheres to state law, which requires parents get their children immunized within 30 days of enrollment.

“Pitt County Schools does not want to suspend students for any reason and certainly not for lack of immunizations or up to date health records,” Johnson wrote.

Kids who don’t show records by the end of the 30-day period are “prohibited from attending school or child care” until the immunization process starts or the documents are provided, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says.

Some people were on board with the Pitt County decision and wanted kids to get up-to-date vaccines.

“The children that don’t get ... the shot, they bring diseases to school for the children that are doing it legally,” grandmother Betty Chamberlain told WCTI.

Others shared that they choose to avoid vaccinating their kids.

“Personally I know (sic) longer give my children shots anymore every time I take them to their check out I sign a form stating my children will not get vaccinated and by law they don’t have to,” one Facebook user wrote on a WCTI post about the student suspensions.

Schools are also required to keep track of the number of students who have medical or religious exemptions, according to state officials.

“These children may be excluded from attending school in the event of an outbreak,” the health department says.

Vaccines help protect kids from diseases before they have the chance to get seriously sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

In North Carolina, officials say the vaccination issue extends beyond Pitt County, which includes Greenville, according to The Daily Reflector. In that area, they think communication and access could be behind the vaccination numbers, the newspaper reports.

Before the suspensions, Johnson says health officials came to campus, and the local health department got extra vaccines.

Several parents turned in their immunization records just as the suspension went into effect, according to the spokeswoman.

Greenville is in Eastern North Carolina, roughly 85 miles southeast of Raleigh.

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