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November 06, 2015

Pa. proposes stricter vaccination requirements for schoolchildren

A new proposal by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education calls for stricter regulations regarding immunizations for schoolchildren in the state.

For example, under the proposal, families would have significantly less time to have children vaccinated. Currently, children are allowed to attend school as long as they have received the first dose of a multi-dose vaccine and have up to eight months to complete all the required doses.

The proposal suggests shortening the "provisional period" to just five days. Those who have yet to receive a single dose of a single-dose vaccine and/or the first dose of a multiple-dose vaccine would not be permitted to attend school.

"As it stands now, sometimes we are following up for eight months to try to get them in -- sending reminders," Nancy Kaminski, legislative chair for the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners, told NewsWorks. "Now, that cuts that time, and puts a little more teeth behind the regulations. If it's not in, in that timely fashion, they can be excluded from school."

According to the Department of Health, only 91 percent of Pennsylvania children entering kindergarten had the necessary vaccinations, compared with more than half the states reporting a rate of over 95 percent. 

The final regulations could be approved within nine months or take up to two years, the department said. They would then take effect at the beginning of the school year after they are approved.

Read more about the proposed revisions here.

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