What parents need to know about new Pa. school vaccination requirements
● By Steven Hoffman
The school year might have just ended, but an effort is underway to raise awareness about new Pa. school vaccination requirements that will be in effect when children head back to the classroom in August.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health developed the new immunization regulations to prevent diseases from spreading.
Jeremy Curtis, the director of pupil services for the Avon Grove School District, said that this is the first time that the vaccination requirements have been changed in quite some time, so the district wants to make sure that parents are well aware of the changes so that they can make sure that their children are ready for the start of the new school year.
“It’s a big change that impacts families in our district,” said Curtis. “Immunizations have been consistent for a long time so parents need to pay attention to the changes and make sure that their children are compliant.”
The new rules impact students of all ages.
Previously, parents had until April of the school year to get their children up to date with the vaccinations. Now, the window to get the vaccinations completed has been shortened to five days after the start of the school year. If the vaccinations aren’t completed within those five days, a doctor can write a note to the district outlining the plan to complete them. Otherwise, children may not be able to attend classes until they are in compliance with the new regulations.
“With the changes, we don’t have any wiggle room,” Curtis explained.
Students in all grades are now required to have four doses of the polio vaccine. Students entering 7th grade are required to have one dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis (Tdap), and one dose of Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV). Students entering 12th grade are required to have one dose of Meningococcal Conjugate. Children now need two doses of rubella, instead of one dose.
If children aren’t fully compliant with the new regulations, they could be sent home from school until all the necessary vaccinations have been completed—a situation that Curtis said the district does not want to occur. During the course of the last school year, just three children out of the approximately 5,000 students in the district missed school time because they were not in compliance with vaccinations at various times. Curtis said that the district doesn’t want more students to have issues with non-compliance, so they are diligently working to get the word out about the new requirements.
Information about the immunization requirements can be found on Avon Grove School District’s website at www. avon grove .org.
School nurses and building principals can be a resource for parents who have questions about the new regulations, Curtis said.
The exemptions to getting a child immunized—philosophical, religious, and medical exemptions—remain unchanged.