PA State Amends Student Vaccination Policy

New immunization policies will go into effect this year for Pennsylvania public school students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all students who wish to attend public schools must have received: four doses of the TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), polio vaccines, two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), chickenpox vaccines, and 3 doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine.

The amended requirements differ from the previous policy by upping the doses of TDaP and polio vaccines from three to four.

Another new requirement pertains to those students entering seventh grade. These students must receive a TDaP booster vaccine as well as one dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV). Additionally, by the first day of 12th grade, students must have received an additional dose of MCV. Failure to comply with these new requirements will prohibit students from attending school.

In contrast to the previous policy, which allowed students with provisional waivers to have an extra eight months to be vaccinated, new provisional waivers will only allow a period of five days. However, if a definite plan for future vaccination dates can be presented then students who have not yet met requirements will still be able to attend school. Along with medical exemptions, religious and philosophical exemptions will still be allowed.

Although vaccination rules are in the hands of states, the updated immunization requirements come as a result of changes to the Center for Disease Control’s vaccination recommendation. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)  comprises medical and public health experts who work to publish recommendations detailing how vaccines can prevent the spread of diseases among the population. The new, more stringent guidelines are a result of the ACIP’s dynamic efforts to curtail the spread of disease among schoolchildren.

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