New PA vaccination rules keep some kids out of school

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- As many kids head back to class, school already may be over for some who have yet to be vaccinated.

New rules in Pennsylvania for student vaccinations are forcing some kids to stay absent from school.

The website for the Donegal School District mentions there are more students than expected who didn't get their vaccinations by the first day of school.

Donegal superintendent Dr. Michael Lausch said "the number of students who, potentially, may be excluded is changing daily as parents are providing us with their proof of immunization or plans to receive them from physicians."

"School districts are being asked to enforce a state mandated policy. We are making every effort to work with our students and parents under the constraints of these regulations," Dr. Lausch added.

It's not a problem unique to Donegal School District.

Without having vaccinations, or a religious or personal reason to skip getting immunized, some kids may be forced to skip school.

Pennsylvania department of health acting secretary Dr Rachel Levine said "from the time that school starts, families have five days to either have The immunizations up to date, or to have a plan from their pediatrician or family physician to get them up to date."

"If you have a written plan, that the doctors office will write out for the family, and you take that plan to your school nurse, that will be sufficient. Then, the school nurse will help you make sure that the plan is successful," Dr. Levine said.

Parents used to have not five days, but eight months to get their kids immunized.

The new rules by the Pennsylvania Department of Health make this school year different.

"To accomplish this, we've been in contact with all the school nurses. We've been in contact with pediatricians, family physicians, and health clinics throughout the state," Dr. Levine said.

"But some families maybe didn't get the message," Dr. Levine added.

Healthcare providers also have been working to spread that message.

Lancaster General Health Penn Medicine community health manager Mary Levasseur said "since June, our pediatric practice, and our Lancaster General Health physician practices have been doing outreach to patients to let them know whether they were behind on a wellness visit, or if there are some additional needs that they can help them meet."

Lancaster General Health offers free immunization clinics to students without insurance, but some parent still may be confused about what shots their child needs.

"We had 12 people show up at one of our additional immunization clinics that we offered to help meet the demand. Twelve of those actually had everything that they needed, so there is some confusion," Levasseur said.

"It's a public health issue, and making sure that our community is immunized and protected is one of our main concerns," Levasseur added.

Lancaster General Health will offer uninsured students another free clinic on Wednesday, September 6th at its Suburban Campus Campus (2100 Harrisburg Pike) in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. The event will take place 3pm - 7 pm at the Wellness Conference Room.

Registration is required (888-LGH-INFO or 888-544-4636). Parents should bring their child's immunization records to the appointment.