Letter to the Editor: Ensure students vaccinated before start of school year

With the start of school just around the corner, the Pennsylvania departments of Health and Education are deeply concerned that not all children in the commonwealth will be fully vaccinated before the start of classes.

In most states, children are required to have all recommended immunizations prior to entering school. However, current Pennsylvania regulations allow students in kindergarten through 12th grade to be admitted to school provisionally for up to eight months if evidence of at least one dose of each of the required antigen for vaccines is given. This includes vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, varicella and hepatitis B.

The parent or guardian then submits a plan for completion of the required immunizations to the school, where the plan is supposed to be reviewed and updated every 60 days. This “window” not only places a time-consuming, bureaucratic burden on school districts but presents a very real and unnecessary risk for children to become infected and potentially spread preventable, communicable diseases.

In order to increase the number of children who start school properly vaccinated, we are launching a statewide education and awareness campaign: “Don’t Wait. Vaccinate.” To help ensure all children are immunized regardless of their family’s income, we have scheduled free or low-cost vaccination health clinics across the state between Aug. 10 and Aug. 21.

Together we can prevent life-threatening illnesses by ensuring that all children are vaccinated before they head to back to school.

Karen Murphy

Secretary of Health


Pedro Rivera

Secretary of Education


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