Parents are running out of time to comply with new school immunization requirements, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
When the school year began, families were given eight months to bring students up to date with their vaccinations.
On April 27, the department announced a two-week grace period.
Final deadlines vary based on when each district began its school year. The health department estimates that the grace period will end in most districts within the next week. For example:
- At the beginnning of April, Southern Lehigh had about 300 students who had yet to comply with the new law. As of May 11, around 20 still had not turned in proof of immunization.
New immunization regulations that took effect last August require:
- Children in all grades to receive a second dose of mumps vaccine as well as a second dose of the chicken pox vaccine.
- Students in seventh grade to have one dose of meningococcalconjugate vaccine (MCV4) and one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and acellularpertussis vaccine (Tdap).
- All vaccines must be appropriately spaced to be considered valid.
While the department established the new regulations, enforcement is left to individual school districts.
School districts maintain the right to exclude students from school if they lack the proper vaccinations.
Any student who is not yet up to date should make an appointment with their local health care provider, or call 877-PA HEALTH (877-724-3258) to be connected totheir local state health center.
The most recent copy of the student’s vaccination history must be provided at the time of the appointment. Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Exemptions are allowed by law for:
- Medical reasons verified by a health care professional
- On religious grounds
- On the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.
However, the student must fill out a statement for exemption and provide it to his or her school.
The regulations were developed upon recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
To review the regulations, visit www.health.state.pa.us/immunizations