With children heading back to school this month, state officials are reminding families of the importance of staying up-to-date on required and recommended vaccinations. 

Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed August as Immunization Awareness Month. It's part of a campaign to control the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases such as chicken pox, meningitis, measles, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a list of all vaccinations required for school attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade. Uninsured children can still be vaccinated at low or no cost through the Vaccines for Children program.

State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Tilson says vaccines are one of the biggest public health successes the medical establishment has seen and offers reassuring words to those who might question their safety and efficacy.

"These vaccines we've had for a long time are very safe, are very effective, and are critically important to protect our children and families from some of the biggest threats against their health," says Tilson.

Tilson adds that while COVID-19 vaccinations are not currently required in North Carolina, they are recommended for children six months and older to prevent illness and the potential spread of the disease.

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