School Nurse Resource Page

The web page serves a primary audience of school nurses, physicians and public health professionals. The purpose of this report is to pass along relevant information about communicable disease, the prevention of communicable disease and learning opportunities that will allow the audience above to better serve the children and families in Polk County.

For immunization questions, please email

Communicable Disease Update

Meningococcal Vaccine Secondary School Requirement

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Bureau of Immunization, has completed the administrative rule making process to require meningococcal (A, C W, Y) vaccine for students enrolling in 7th and 12th grades. The administrative rule change was effective January 11, 2017, and will be implemented at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The Immunization Program has developed a variety of materials regarding the new requirement. The following resources are available on the Immunization Program’s webpage.

  • Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement Partner Letter
  • Iowa Immunization Code
  • Immunization Requirements Table
  • Meningococcal Vaccine Secondary School Requirement Questions and Answers
  • Certificate of Immunization (Update Immunization Requirements Table)
  • Provisional Certificate of Immunization
  • Certificate of Immunization Exemption - Medical

The Immunization Program is committed to keeping you informed of school immunization requirements and looks forward to working with you during the implementation of the meningococcal vaccine requirement. If you have questions regarding this change, contact the Immunization Program at 1-800-831-6293.


Health Reporting System

The Polk County Health Reporting System is used daily by the Polk County Health Department to look for illness trends and potential outbreaks in the county. The Polk County Health Department also provides support to individual schools by request and when absence rates are over 10% for students and/or staff.

Having 10% or more students/staff absent on a given school day is reportable in Iowa. Using the Polk County Health Reporting System is an easy way for schools to fulfill this state requirement. 

To access the Polk County Health Reporting System, you need a PIN/Username and a password. Please contact Kari Lebeda Townsend at or (515) 286-2018 with questions about your username, password and/or help accessing the system.


Mumps Testing & Prevention

Here are some tips to reduce the spread of mumps in your community:

  • Anyone with symptoms consistent with mumps should be tested as soon as possible after onset of symptoms, regardless of vaccination history. Providers should obtain both a buccal swab for PCR and blood for IgM as soon as possible after onset of symptoms.
  • Anyone with suspected mumps should not participate in child care, school, work, or other public events until five days after symptoms began or until they are well, whichever is longer.
  • People exposed to mumps should watch for symptoms until up to 25 days after their last known exposure. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, and swollen salivary glands under the jaw.
  • Anyone who is not immune and has not received two doses of a mumps-containing vaccine should be vaccinated when age-appropriate. Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine reduce the probability of mumps infections or complications if infected.

For more information, visit



We continue to see cases of mumps in Iowa. We can help to slow the spread by being alert for symptoms of mumps.  After exposure to mumps, symptoms typically appear 16 – 18 days after infection but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.  Some people who get mumps may have very mild or no symptoms and may not know they have the disease.  The most common mumps symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the jaw (on one or both sides).

Anyone with mumps symptoms should contact their health care provider. Laboratory tests should be requested for anyone with mumps symptoms without other apparent cause, regardless of vaccination history. Both oral and blood tests are recommended by the PCHD and IDPH when testing for mumps. 

Anyone with suspected mumps should not participate in child care, school, work, or other public events until five days after symptoms began or until they are well, whichever is longer. For more information, contact the PCHD Communicable Disease Nurses at 515-286-3890.

Childhood Immunization Updates

Auditing Immunization and Dental Certificates

It is that time again to begin the process of auditing Immunization and Dental Certificates. You will be receiving a call from one of the Audit Nurses to arrange a time to complete this annual process.

Please see the School and Child Care Audit Q & A from Iowa Department of Public Health, which can be found under Immunization Resources.

Please take some time to review the Immunization Q&A section and Immunization Resources section.

To help insure that your audit goes smoothly please provide:

                *  A quiet area with minimal interruptions to work in.

                *  Total enrollment count at the time of the audit.

                *  A current class list arranged alphabetically by grade level, (PreK-Grade 12) that includes the students date of birth. Please designate  any dual enrolled home school students. 

                *   A current class list arranged alphabetically for any kindergarten and 9th grade students for use in the dental audit.

                *  All immunization certificates and dental screening forms arranged alphabetically by grade level. Please separate the immunization certificates from the dental screening forms.

Iowa rules for auditing require us to base our audit findings on the documents presented to us at the beginning of the audit. We cannot accept updated documents during the course of the audit. Please assure that the documents presented to us for review are the most up to date records and are completely filled out.

At the conclusion of the audit we will review the results and findings with you. We will be asking for  copies of any invalid certificates, provisional certificates, medical exemption and religious exemption certificates. To facilitate this process we ask that you make copies of any provisional and exemption certificates prior to the audit date.


Childhood Immunization Clinic Hours:

Tuesday 10:30am – 6:30pm

Wednesday 8:30am – 4:30pm

Thursday 8:30am – 4:30pm by appointment. 

Friday we have a walk-in clinic from 8:30am – 1:00pm. 

You can call (515) 286-3798 to make an appointment for vaccines. We are located at 1907 Carpenter Ave, Des Moines, Iowa. Please feel free to contact Susan Brooks, RN at (515) 286-3244 or with any immunization questions.

Other News

Community Influenza Clinics

Polk County Health Department’s community flu clinics are in full swing! Visit /health/get-a-flu-shot/ to find a community flu clinic near you or your students! Most major insurances are accepted- please bring your card. People without health insurance can receive a vaccine for a $20 fee.  Walk-ins are welcome at Polk County Health Department, 1907 Carpenter Ave, Monday- Friday 9 AM to 4:30 PM and Tuesdays 9 AM to 6:30 pm through the end of flu season. 

Discontinuing walk-in childhood immunization clinic starting December 2nd
Discontinuing walk-in childhood immunization clinic letter

Call 1-844-IowaSic to report foodborne illnesses. Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Inspection and Appeals have joined forces to establish a statewide one-call system through which Iowans can report illnesses associated with food poisoning. 

Immunization Resources

Immunization Q & A #1
Immunization Q &A #2
Immunization Q &A #3
Immunization Q & A #4

2016 School and Child Care Audit Q and A
2016-2017 School Requirements Tool
2016 School Requirements Tool
Tdap School Requirement
Prevnar-PCV Catch-Up Schedule
Immunization Requirements Chart
Tdap - DTaP Clip-Out Tool
Hep B Spacing Clip-Out Tool


Polk County Health Department Contacts

Communicable Disease Nurses: Sarah Kreft, Sue Boley, Courtnay Murphy              

(515) 286-3890

Immunization Nurse Coordinator: Susan Brooks                                                    

(515) 286-3244

Surveillance Officer: Kari Lebeda Townsend                                                          

(515) 286-2018

Clinical Nurse Supervisor: Carmin Hutch                                                                 

(515) 323-5244

Health Educator/Public Information Officer: Nola Aigner Davis                                          

 (515) 286-3848

COVID-19 Call Center for eligible individuals WITHOUT computer or internet access, please call 515-323-5221 Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.