With the new school year just days away, Indiana health officials want to make parents aware of new immunizations required for school entry.
For the upcoming 2013-2014 school year, all students, kindergarten through 12th grade, will be required to have two valid doses of the chickenpox vaccine on record, or a documented history of the disease.
Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Joan Duwve, M.D., said the new requirement will help calm some nerves after a few outbreaks last year.
“We experienced multiple outbreaks of chickenpox around that state during the last school year,” said Dr. Duwye in a statement. “This new requirement will help stop the spread of this preventable disease and keep kids healthy and in school.”
More than 100 students in the Vigo County School Corporation contracted the childhood disease last fall.
Indiana was also one of 29 states reporting high levels of flu-like illnesses earlier this year. The state lost two children to the flu last season, and doctors say immunization is the best way to avoid a tragedy like that again.
Although not required for school entry, the state recommends students receive the following immunizations if they haven’t already: two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine; a flu vaccine every year; human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for all adolescents; and a booster dose of meningitis vaccine for adolescents ages 16-18.
Health policies vary between individual colleges and universities, but most require up-to-date immunizations. Students who attend Indiana University, for example, must provide immunization information to the Office of the Registrar before completing their first academic term. Although the state confirmed a case of measles near campus last spring, the IU Health Center said none of the university’s requirements have been modified for this year.
The American College Health Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all students be immunized before enrollment against illnesses including measles, mumps and meningitis.
Parents can get immunization records from their health care provider, or using the state website MyVaxIndiana to access records online using a personal identification number.
All Indiana school immunization requirements are posted on the State Department of Health’s website.