Tighter immunization rules make sense

The following editorial is from the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pa.

Nov. 09—State health and education officials are on the mark in tightening rules on immunizations for school children. When it comes to public health, protecting against preventable diseases is key.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education are seeking regulatory approval to require students to receive their final dose within the first five days of school, or show a doctor’s plan to complete a multidose immunization for that student. Current rules keep kids out of school if they haven’t had at least the first dose of required vaccines, but if they have received it, they can attend classes for up to eight months while they complete the regimen. The changes would apply to all students, in public, private, religious, charter or other schools.

This is important because allowing students eight months to complete immunization exposes all children to the risk of infection and the possible spread of preventable communicable diseases. Just last December, officials traced a measles outbreak to Disneyland in California. It spread to more than 100 cases of measles in 14 states, including one in Pennsylvania. The measles virus is so contagious that it easily spreads among unvaccinated individuals.

And that’s just one potentially dangerous but preventable disease. The departments’ proposal also adds a pertussis vaccine requirement and calls for a dose of vaccine to prevent meningitis, which students would need before they enter their senior year.

While officials are calling for earlier and more extensive immunizations to protect children, they’re giving schools more time to report by changing the immunization report deadline from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, and requiring an electronic report. That gives school districts more time to gather information and provide it more accurately.

Vaccines protect the health of both individuals and those around them. The changes health and education officials are appropriate and will provide a more effective level of protection for all school children — thus all Pennsylvanians. They deserve approval.

For a video of an infant with whooping cough, visit http://bit.ly/1FeEvPd


(c)2015 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.

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