Families face new back to school vaccine requirements

Stethoscope health medical clinic
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — New vaccination requirements have added to the back to school to-do list for parents across Indiana ahead of the 2014-15 school year.

According to Dr. Virginia Caine, the director for the Marion County Public Health Department, the state has added to the list of required immunizations for kindergarten aged students and incoming high school seniors.

Immunization against Hepatitis A was once a recommendation for kindergarteners. Now the two-round vaccine is a requirement and involves a shot before school begins and another one six months later, Caine said.

Teenagers starting their senior year now must get a second dose of protection against meningitis. Doctors found immunity from the meningococcal vaccine given in 6th grade wears out by the end of high school. A second round is required for protection against a disease that can cause brain damage. Recent outbreaks of meningococcal disease on U.S. college campuses partly motivated the new requirement according to Caine.

On Saturday, health officials in Marion County provided free vaccines and other health screenings at “Back to School Family Day.” Caine said the event was just one way the health department works to make getting ready for the school year easy for families.

“There are plenty of resources out there. The Health Department is available to give our immunizations. If you’re two years and younger, you can get those immunizations free from us but we [also] have wonderful community health centers… There should be no excuse for someone not protecting your child,” Caine said.

The Indiana State Department Health maintains a vaccine registry through which parents can access records for their children. The Children and Hoosier’s Immunization Registry Program (CHIRP) is a service to “collect, forecast, manage and share vaccine data to registered medical providers in Indiana,” as listed on the program’s webpage “MyVaxIndiana.”

For more information on how to use MyVaxIndiana, click here.


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