Nearly 1,000 Erie school students could miss the first day of sc - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Nearly 1,000 Erie school students could miss the first day of school following vaccine law changes

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ERIE, Pa. -

Between 1,000 and 1,100 students in the Erie School District -- that's nearly 1 in every 11 -- could miss the first day of school, if their vaccinations aren't up to date.

"We think with that many students impacted that it would be a logistical nightmare for students to start school, and then within five days, tell them they can no longer come to school," said Angie Kownacki, the district's director of pupil personnel services.

A change in Pennsylvania law starting this August could effect students across the board. All students are now required to have the following vaccinations under Pa. law, according to the Erie County Department of Health:

  • 4 doses of Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis (DTaP)
  • 4 doses of Polio
  • 2 doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • 3 doses of Hepatitis B
  • 2 doses of Chicken Pox or history of disease
  • Entry for 7th grade: Meningococcal vaccine & Tdap
  • Entry for 12th grade: 2nd Meningococcal vaccine

The message from the Erie County Health Department: check your child's charts before sending them to school.

"Many of the children already have this fourth dose of polio vaccine, it's just not in their records," said Charlotte Berringer, Erie County Health Dept. director of nursing.

The old law used to give parents an eight-month window to get their child vaccinated. That's now down to just a five-day grace period once school starts. And some school districts, including the City of Erie require children to be vaccinated by the first day of school.

The important thing for parents who are uninsured to remember, Berringer says, is they can still get their child vaccinated at the Erie County Health Department.

"If there is an outbreak in the school related to one of those diseases, your children will be excluded from school," said Berringer.

Kownacki notes the changes have affected 5 to 10 times as many students this year than last with an average of only 100-200 students who need vaccinations by the end of the school year, she said.

"If you can't get in right away to get them, at least get an affidavit from your physician telling us when they will be scheduled so that your child will be able to start school on the first day," she added.

The reminders are all-too-important with the first day of school in the City of Erie just six weeks away on Aug. 28.

Parents or guardians can object to the vaccination requirements, citing religious or deep philosophical differences, Berringer said.

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