Education

Kids are required to have Hepatitis A vaccine before school starts. What if they don’t?

With Fayette County public schools starting Aug. 15, what happens if your family has not met the new state regulation that all Kentucky students should have proof of getting the Hepatitis A vaccine by the beginning of school?

For months online, district officials have been encouraging families to schedule doctor visits as soon as possible because of new immunization requirements that call for two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. Also, students 16 and over, a booster to the meningitis vaccine. Fayette school district Health Services Coordinator Debbie Boian said additional notification will be sent to families before the first day of school.

Under Fayette’s school board policy, students must have the first of two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine, which is required for all unvaccinated students regardless of age, at the latest within two weeks of the first day of school .

Boian said district officials hope that students bring in the required form to the school at orientation or meet and greet events before school starts. If the physician’s office participates in the Kentucky Immunization Registry, the school nurse can print a vaccination certificate off of the registry.

The second dose must be given within six months of the first dose. If students can’t get in to see their physician, other places offering the immunizations to students include the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Health First Bluegrass, and several area pharmacies and clinics, she said..

If after two weeks, a child has not provided the necessary documentation at school, Boian said, Fayette school district officials will follow a process in which they try to give the family help to get the immunization.

“If the school nurse isn’t able to get the family to comply, the principal may step in,” said Boian. The district Pupil Personnel director could be called or neglect and abuse charges could be filed if a parent refuses, she said

Also, students will need to have the meningitis MCV4 booster when they turn 16. The state requires all students to bring in a new immunization certificate for the upcoming school year. Families can contact their physician or the health department for more information about the vaccines and certificates, school district officials said on their website.

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If people don’t want their children to have the vaccines, there is a medical and a religious exemption process listed on the Kentucky Department of Education website, Boian said.

“We prefer that they have the first dose before the first day,” said Boian, “that gives them protection.”

From August 1, 2017 to July 14, there have been 430 confirmed cases, 475 probable cases and 265 suspected cases in Kentucky, according to a state report on the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department website. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus., the website said.

Normally, only about 20 cases are reported each year, the website said, noting that vaccination is the best method of preventing the Hepatitis A virus.

“Kentucky has the largest number of Hepatitis A cases in the nation,” said Boian. Children are susceptible, she said

A case of Hepatitis A was confirmed at Lexington’s Millcreek Elementary School in May. Because of medical privacy rules, health officials did not reveal whether a student or staff member has been infected., but indicated it occurred in the classroom.

People with questions about health and wellness in Fayette County Public Schools can contact Boian at (859)381- 3849.

Fayette County Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said a case of Hepatitis A has been confirmed at Millcreek Elementary School. A Hepatitis A vaccination will be required for Fayette County Public School students next school year.

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