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Upper Perk Holds Vaccine Clinic to Help Students Meet Deadline
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2017-08-23

            As the deadline for Upper Perkiomen students to comply with new state mandated vaccination requirements looms, district Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina says a "flawlessly" executed outreach strategy should prevent any student from being barred from attending classes.

            The Pennsylvania Department of Health late last year revised its rules to require that all students obtain necessary vaccines or exemptions within the first five days of the school year. Previously, students had eight months from the start of school to get their vaccines.

            In Upper Perkiomen, parents have until Friday, Sept. 1 to make sure their children have the required vaccinations, leverage one of the three legally permitted exemptions or work with administrators to develop a medical plan for vaccination, according to Andrea Farina, the district's assistant superintendent.

            The regulations affect hundreds of students this year, Farina said. Those who don't comply will not be allowed to attend class.

            Following an announcement of the new rules in January, Farina – in her previous role as the district's director of pupil services – and the school nurses coordinated a campaign of fliers, emails, letters and phone calls to inform parents of the new requirements.

            "When we saw the writing on the wall, the nursing staff started chasing down families that could be impacted," she said. "They have executed our plan flawlessly."

            On Monday, the school district hosted an immunization clinic at the district's Education Center with medical professionals from Detweiler Family Medicine & Associates, a practice located in Lansdale. At least 40 students registered for the clinic, according to Farina, who called the event a last-ditch effort to help the students and their parents comply.

            "We don't want anyone to be in limbo on this," she said.

            Parents choosing to pursue one of three exemptions from immunizations for their child are asked to share that information with the school nurse of the building the child is attending, according to a letter from the district. Exemptions for medical beliefs, religious reasons, and a strong philosophical reason are allowable. Additional exceptions to the immunization requirements have been added for homeless students, foster care students and transfer students who have specific requirements.

            New students must provide proof of immunization or proof that they have received at least one dose of the required immunizations, unless they choose to utilize one of the exceptions.

            "It has become part of the registration package," Farina said.

            By the first day of September, students who do not have the proper vaccinations or have not applied for an exemption will be stopped at the door to their schools, according to Farina. She said district officials then will work with families to create a medical plan laying out a schedule for those shots to occur.

            "That's the worst case scenario," Farrina said. "I don't expect that to happen."

            The new rules require that all students receive four doses each of Tetanus and Diphtheria as well as the polio vaccine, three doses of hepatitis B, two doses each of Measles, Mumps, Rubella as well as Varicella (chickenpox) or show a history of the disease, according to a letter from Farina to district parents.

            New seventh grade students are required to receive one dose each of Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis and meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV). Students starting 12th grade must get two doses of MCV, including a second one after the age of 16. The provisional period does not apply to the seventh and 12th grade students, according a flier from the state agency.

            During the last school year, none of those students who utilized the previous provisional period failed to receive the required immunizations by the April 28 deadline, according to Farina.

            Officials from the state's health department did not return a phone message seeking comment. The changes were recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drafted by the Department of Health and approved by its Health Advisory Board for approval.


 

 

 

 

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