HARRISBURG – Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera have announced plans by the departments to revise the immunization regulations for school children in Pennsylvania to ensure all students are better protected from illness.
Current state regulations require Pennsylvania children to get immunized against certain diseases in order to attend school. These requirements presently include a provisional period, which allows students who have received the first dose of a multi-dose vaccine to attend school for up to eight months while they complete all of the required immunizations.
The current regulations bar children from entering school if they are missing the first dose of a required single or multi-dose vaccine. Under the proposed changes, these students will still be barred from attending school until they have received the first dose.
The proposed changes will now require students to receive their final dose or, if the medical schedule does not allow, a medical certificate that includes a plan for completing the multi-dose immunization within the first five school days.
The proposal also changes some of the state’s vaccination requirements, such as requiring a pertussis vaccine and a dose of meningococcal vaccine for students before entering 12th grade.
“The current eight-month provisional window for immunization presents a very real risk for children to become infected and potentially spread preventable, communicable diseases to others,” said Murphy.
“It is critical that we work together to ensure Pennsylvania’s children are healthy, and ensuring children have a medically appropriate path to being fully immunized will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”
“Good health can help students focus, prevent missed school days, and improve learning overall,” Rivera said. “These proposed changes in the state’s immunization policy will keep students in Pennsylvania classrooms healthy and help them achieve their best.”
Regulations apply to children in public, private, parochial, and non-public schools (including vocational schools, intermediate units, special education and home education programs, cyber schools, and charter schools) in the commonwealth.
The departments also are proposing to change the date by which schools are required to submit immunization reports, from Oct. 15 of each school year to Dec. 31, and to require reporting electronically. This change allows for more accurate reports and more time for schools to gather information.
Uninsured and underinsured students can visit one of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s state health centers or local health departments to get the required vaccines. Please call 1-877-PA-HEALTH to get more information.
To view the Pennsylvania Department of Health FAQs on immunizations, please click here.