Local school officials are beginning to understand their responsibilities for tracking vaccinations in students, including those who are using a school district’s transportation.
Last week, Penn Yan Central School Superintendent Howard Dennis reported to the board of education on the changes related to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s June decision to remove religious exemptions from school vaccination requirements.
State requirements differ by age group, but the vaccinations include:
• Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertusssis vaccine
• Tetanus and Diphtheria toxoid-conatining vaccine and Pertussis vaccine booster
• Polio vaccine
• Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine
• Hepatitis B
• Varicella (Chickenpox)
• Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
Hae++mophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine
• Pneumococcal conjugate
Dennis said so far, he’s heard of a couple of families who have moved out of state because of the new requirement, and a 17-year-old student has dropped out of school. Otherwise, district nurses are working with students who attend school in the district buildings and St. Michael’s School. But Penn Yan Central School buses transport 158 students to other private schools, and those schools are responsible for tracking the records of many of those bus riders.
Dennis said he sought guidance from the State Education Department, which was also working with the State Department of Health and Office of Children and Family Services to work out all the details. After receiving information from them, he consulted the district’s attorney, who advised him to send letters to the private schools explaining that Penn Yan School will ask each school for a list of students who ride the buses and have medical exemptions from the vaccinations.
In the event of a public health outbreak, the district will notify those families, and the district will presume that the other students are immunized as required.
Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck says that district is using a coordinated effort that involves the families of these children, Yates County Public Health and the private school. She says the schools will ensure that the children are properly vaccinated accordingly to the regulation.
The state law applies to students attending all schools, including public, private, parochial child caring center, day nursery, day care agency, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary, intermediate, or secondary school.
A student must provide evidence of age appropriate vaccination within 14 days of the school opening. The time may be extended for students transferring from out of state or another country.
While physicians may still issue a medical exemption for some children, the exemption must specifically outline the medical reason that prevents a child from being vaccinated, and the physician must outline specific justifications for each required vaccine in order to be able to grant an exemption. Previously, regulations allowed a physician to submit a signed statement to schools without having to document on an approved form stating why immunization may be detrimental to a child’s health. The State Department of Health and Office of Children and Family Services issued emergency regulations Aug. 16 spelling out these new requirements.