Immunization Requirements Changing for 2014-2015 School Year
Writer & Photographer / Julie Yates
This summer, students in the current junior class at Center Grove High School will be busy preparing for their senior year. Some may be working hard at summer jobs to bank away future spending money for college. Many will be arranging to get their senior portraits done. Another important appointment they will want to make is scheduling a doctor’s visit to receive a second meningococcal shot in order to comply with the new Indiana vaccination requirements.
Teens and parents might not be aware of this change. Under prior guidelines, once a student entering the sixth grade fulfilled the requirements of getting one Tdap (tetanus and pertussis) shot and one MCV4 (meningococcal) shot, they had completed the mandatory immunization schedule for Indiana. Now, a second meningococcal shot is a prerequisite for entering 12th grade.
Reason for the change
According to pediatrician Meagan O’Neill of the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, the state made the new immunization requirements based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For several years, the CDC tracked an increase in meningitis cases of college freshman living in dorms. Because of that data, the agency advised that children receive a second meningococcal vaccination at age 16 or older. In Indiana, this endorsement became part of the new vaccination laws for the 2014-15 school year.
Change for kindergarten
Another change to the Indiana immunization schedule will affect students entering kindergarten. Now, every child must have two hepatitis A vaccinations by the first day of kindergarten. Many pediatricians were already following earlier CDC advice that children should receive the first hepatitis A vaccination at the 12-month visit.
“One of the hardest parts of my job is combating the misconception that vaccine-preventable diseases ’don’t exist’ anymore,” O’Neill says. “But the fact is that these diseases still do exist. The vaccines that we have to prevent them are incredibly safe, well-studied and are one of the lowest-risk interventions that we have today in modern medicine.”
Making parents aware
Carla Slauter, R.N., the health services coordinator for Center Grove Community School System, sent a letter to parents last month to alert them of the new requirements. More communication is planned in the coming months. The state of Indiana allows for a 20-day waiver for parents to turn in immunization records at the start of school, and Center Grove has elected to take advantage of that period. “Our goal is not to exclude any child, but to have everyone in compliance by the waiver deadline of October 1,” Slauter says.
For more information, visit CenterGrove.k12.in.us/HealthServices, or contact the Johnson County Health Department’s Vaccines for Children Program at 317-346-4368.