Changes to school immunization requirements in Ark. - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Changes to school immunization requirements in Ark.

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The Arkansas Department of Health says the purpose of this change is to better protect Arkansas school children in the age groups with the highest rates of pertussis. The Arkansas Department of Health says the purpose of this change is to better protect Arkansas school children in the age groups with the highest rates of pertussis.

(WMC-TV) - Children who will be 11 years of age or older on or before September 1 of each school year will be required to receive a Tdap shot in order to attend public or private school in Arkansas. This new requirement is anticipated to be effective September 1, 2014.

The Arkansas Department of Health says the purpose of this change is to better protect Arkansas school children in the age groups with the highest rates of pertussis. Pertussis is also called whooping cough.

In 2013, there were 466 cases of pertussis in Arkansas, up from 80 cases in 2011. Since the disease is highly contagious and easily spread from person to person, the best pertussis protection for older children and adults is through the Tdap shot.

Proposed immunization requirements for students in both private and public school who are entering the upcoming school year include:

  • Kindergarten and Grade 1: Students need one Hepatitis A shot that was given on or after their first birthday.
  • Kindergarten through Grade 12: Students need to complete a series of three polio shots. One of the shots must have been given on or after the student's fourth birthday.

Other immunization requirements that will be effective Sept. 1, 2014 include:

  • Grade 7: Students need a meningococcal shot. Students turning age 16 years on or before September 1 regardless of their grade will also need a meningococcal shot of they have not already had one. If they have had one prior to turning 16, they will need a second shot. Students turning age 16 years on or before September 1 will have until October 1 to meet this new requirement.
  • Grades 1 through 12: Students need to have completed a series of four DTaP shots with one given on or after the student's fourth birthday. Only three DTaP shots are required if the student did not receive any before age 7 years. The DTaP shot is the pertussis shot for young children. It also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Kindergarten through Grade 12: Students need to complete a series of two varicella shots. Varicella is also called chickenpox. History of disease can be provided in lieu of getting the shot, but only if it is reported by a medical professional.

There are also changes to the requirements for attending childcare facilities, such as daycares, in Arkansas. In addition to the previous requirements, children in childcare will need one or two Hepatitis A shots, depending on their age. Children will need one to four Polio shots, depending on their age, and to wait at least six months after the third polio shot before getting the fourth one, according to a news release from ADH.

To read more, click here.

If a parent or guardian does not want their child to receive a required shot, they must get an exemption before the start of the 2014-2015 school year. Exemption forms may be requested from the Immunization Section of the Arkansas Department of Health by calling 501-661-2169 or via email at immunization.section@arkansas.gov.

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