GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- As a childhood disease once considered eradicated makes a comeback, Greenville County Schools are asking employees and school volunteers to take precautions.
The district is asking all employees, from teachers to bus drivers, as well as volunteers, to have a copy of their vaccination records on hand just in case there’s an outbreak.
According to Greenville County Schools spokesperson Beth Brotherton, if even one student gets measles, DHEC can require school employees and volunteers to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated, or force them to stay home for at least three weeks.
“We’re taking a proactive step to have our employees locate some sort of verification that they have had an immunization for the measles or to have them get vaccinated again,” Brotherton said.
She said this isn’t a requirement, just a move that would help employees and volunteers avoid having to stay home in the event of an outbreak.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health Environmental Control, more than 2,000 public and private school students in Greenville County weren’t vaccinated last school year because of religious exemptions.
“Around the country, the U.S. has experienced the highest number of measles cases in a number of years,” said Dr. Robin LaCroix, who is the medical director at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Upstate.
Dr. LaCroix said diseases like measles can linger and infect people for even longer than that.
“Measles are very very contagious,” she said. “It’s airborne and it can also live for a period of time suspended in the air.”
7News asked an attorney if teachers who claim religious exemption could possibly sue over the alert to track down their records of immunization or get vaccinated.
“If a person challenges that, I believe that there’s enough state interest basically that the health and safety of people, that it would probably require a teacher to be vaccinated,” said attorney John Reckenbeil said.
Any school employees staying home because of an outbreak would not be paid beyond their four personal days unless the absence qualifies them for medical leave, according to Brotherton. She also said measles vaccines will be provided for free at the district’s dozens of flu shot stations this Fall.