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David Carney
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Schools Requiring Vaccine Updates for All Students

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Pennsylvania schools are requiring students to update their vaccinations before returning to school in the upcoming school year. School officials say the vaccination requirements would bring Pennsylvania in line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increased vaccinations include an additional chicken pox shot, an extra tetanus shot and a meningitis vaccination for seventh graders.

The additional requirements are causing confusion for parents because a number of the vaccines come in a series, requiring multiple shots spread out over time. One school nurse said that if students have none of the required vaccinations, they would be prohibited from school. There are a few exceptions, however. Parents can claim either a religious or medical exception to bypass the schools’ vaccine regulations. According to the state Department of Health, about 1.5% of Pennsylvania students claimed vaccination exceptions, which is equivalent to nearly 27,000 unvaccinated students.

School officials and nurses claim that the vaccinations are a public health issue in an effort to reduce and curb communicable diseases. With this sentiment in mind, schools are holding clinics in an effort to bring students up to date with their immunizations. However, with parents becoming confused by the changing vaccination landscape, it is imperative that these programs and clinics advise the parents of the potential side effects and adverse events that can results from vaccinations. Educating parents should also be a public health issue.

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