County to continue school immunization clinics
The Allegheny County Health Department has scheduled more free clinics this month to help families get their children caught up on school vaccinations.
The Health Department's regular clinic at 3441 Forbes Avenue in Oakland will continue to offer vaccine throughout the month on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 1 to 8 p.m.
Based on a review of school vaccination records, about one in five students or an estimated 30,000 countywide in kindergarten through 12th grade lack documentation for one or more of the newly required vaccinations which took effect this school year. The new requirements include vaccinations against meningitis, chicken pox, mumps and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis.
“We commend our schools for already making steady and significant progress in reducing the number of unvaccinated students from an estimated 62,000 last October and about 42,000 as recently as January,” said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.
“Thirty-thousand is still a substantial number of unvaccinated students, however, and our free clinics are meant to give them an opportunity to get caught up because some schools may decide to start excluding students who are not completely vaccinated.”
While the Health Department has issued a waiver allowing schools to let unvaccinated students finish the current school year, it does not take away their option to exclude such students before the end of the school year if any schools choose to do so.
The waiver is for the remainder of the 2008-2009 school year only and does not carry over to the next school year. Schools will be required to exclude students at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year that cannot document compliance with the vaccination requirements, which apply to all public, private, parochial, cyber and home-schooled students in Allegheny County.