CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- School starts Friday for most Kanawha County students, but there are still opportunities for students to get the needed vaccines to start the school year.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will hold three more walk-in vaccine clinics for students in kindergarten through college 8 to 4 p.m. Friday and Monday and 8 until 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Ashley Meadows, a licensed practical nurse at the health department, said more than 130 students were vaccinated Monday and more than 170 Wednesday at the department's first back to school walk-in clinic of the year.
"We're seeing a large number of people, and they are also from Putnam County, not just Kanawha," Meadows said, "We're seeing a mixture of both."
Kanawha-Charleston is providing clinical services for Putnam County also, because the Putnam Health Board laid off its 12 full-time and two part-time employees due to financial problems. The Putnam Health Department is more than $250,000 in debt and was unable to keep up with its current obligations. The Putnam health agency is operating out of a Department of Health and Human Resources building in Winfield until administrators find a permanent home.
In July, about 110 Putnam County residents - more than three times the number that came in June -- came to the Kanawha-Charleston department for clinical services, said Carol McCormick, deputy director of administrative services for KCHD.
"It had been steadily going up," McCormick said of the patients at the health department. "We're seeing steadily increasing numbers."
Even though students are technically required to have vaccines before they arrive at school, Meadows said she doesn't expect clinic attendance to slack off because Kanawha County is back in session.
"A lot of times... they go the first day to enroll and then that's when they see the nurse and she says you need vaccinations. And Putnam County doesn't start for two more weeks," she said.
Most vaccine requirements are for kindergartners, preschoolers and new students. For the second year, seventh-grade students are also required to have booster vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) and a dose of meningococcal vaccine. Students entering 12th grade should have a Tdap booster and a meningococcal vaccine given after they turn 16.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources has allowed a two-week grace period for seventh and 12th grade students, said Brenda Isaac, lead school nurse and coordinator of health services for Kanawha County Schools.
Students moving to West Virginia schools for the first time are required to have at least one dose of all the required vaccines before they can enter school.