CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two Kanawha County students dropped out of high school over this year's new vaccine requirements, chief school nurse Brenda Isaac said.
Isaac said she's not sure whether the students who dropped out would have remained in school anyway. She said one was 18 years old and the other was 19, so they may have used the new requirements as an excuse.
"Whether we would have kept them or not, I don't know," she said. "The goal was not to be punitive. The goal was to see how many kids we could get immunized."
Isaac, speaking at a Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health meeting Tuesday, said one county middle school student also missed a few days because their parent was being "uncooperative" about getting the newly required shots. That student has now been vaccinated, however.
Isaac, in addition to her duties with the school system, is also the president of the health board.
Beginning this school year, students entering seventh and 12th grades were required to be vaccinated against pertussis, tetanus and meningitis. Students who did not receive those shots were not to be allowed to attend class.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources in August announced there would be a two-week grace period, after realizing many students still had not received the vaccines.
Kanawha County Schools was even more lenient with students, allowing children to attend school without the required shots as long as their parents promised to schedule a doctor's appointment or take them to a vaccine clinic at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Susan Jordan, nurse supervisor for the health department, said the new requirements significantly boosted the number of vaccinations given this year.
The health department administered 1,253 "tdap" vaccinations - which protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis - from April 1 to Sept. 15.
Last year, the health department gave only 583.