New York State students are now required to get more vaccination dosages before heading to school, the State Department of Health announced Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, students must now undergo extra rounds of certain vaccinations to meet national standards before they can be admitted to classes.
The new requirements do not add any types of vaccinations to the list of requirements, but rather up the dosage of already required vaccines. The updates were made based on feedback from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of health experts who develop vaccination guidelines to control disease.
This is the first update to vaccination requirements in more than a decade, officials said.
"Immunizations protect children from serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles, and have an excellent track record of safety and effectiveness," said Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement. "I encourage parents to talk to their children's healthcare provider and work with their school's health services to ensure that all immunizations are up-to-date."
Required vaccinations help prevent diseases that are now rare because of these immunizations, said DOH officials. These diseases, which still exist and can spread to those who are unvaccinated, are particularly dangerous for young children. The new requirements effect students in daycare, head start, nursery, pre-K and grades K-12.
State officials made the following changes to vaccination requirements:
- Students entering kindergarten or 6th grade in the 2014-2015 school year will now be required to have two doses of the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine and 3-5 doses of poliomyelitis vaccine. The updated varicella and polio vaccination requirements will be phased in over the next seven years and will be required for all grades by the 2020-2021 school year.
- For all other required vaccines, students in day care, head start, nursery, pre-kindergarten and grades kindergarten through 12 will be required to have age-appropriate doses in accordance with the ACIP schedule.
- A student who is in process is defined as one who has had the first dose of vaccine in all of the required immunization series and has appointments to complete the series in accordance with the ACIP catch up schedule. Read more here. A student who is in process must be allowed to attend school.
- Students may present proof of immunity by serology (blood test) for the following immunizations: measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella, and poliomyelitis.
- Medical exemptions to immunizations must be reissued annually. The written exemption must identify the immunization exempted, the medical contraindication for the exemption, and the length of time the immunization is contraindicated. A sample medical exemption form is available here.
- Any child who has been vaccinated according to the ACIP recommendations, which are followed by most health care providers, should not need further vaccinations in order to attend day care or school.