Parents face immunization deadline

Parents face a strict deadline to make sure students are properly immunized going into this school year.

Beginning this year, if a child’s immunization records are not up to date, a child may not be allowed in school after the fifth day of classes. The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s new guidelines, effective Aug. 1, reduced the window from eight months.

Area school districts are keeping track of what students lack which required vaccines as the date for the first day of school draws near. Most Valley schools have links to the new regulations on their district websites.

Students enrolling in kindergarten need the following vaccines: four doses of tetanus; four doses of diphtheria; four doses of polio; three doses of hepatitis B; two doses of varicella, or history of the disease; two doses of live measles or a blood test showing immunity; two doses of live mumps or a signed statement from a physician stating that the child had the disease; and one dose of live rubella (German measles), a blood test showing immunity or two doses of MMR (measles/mumps/rubella).

Additionally, students enrolling in seventh grade need one dose of Tdap if five years have elapsed since the last tetanus vaccine and one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Tdap is a combination vaccine that protects against three potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

Cathy Keegan, superintendent of the Milton Area School District, said her district is on top of the issue.

“The legislation clearly identifies the requirements for vaccination to attend schools, as well as the exclusions,” she said. “Currently, we have 225 students, grades K through 12, who are not appropriately vaccinated according to this requirement. There are specific guidelines provided by the Department of Health to work with families, along with specific exclusions.”

Keegan said Milton is applying to become an immunization site through the School Immunization Catch-Up program, a federally funded program that provides specific vaccinations to students in kindergarten through age 18 who meet at least one criterium — such as uninsured or underinsured —…