Children without vaccines to be banned from school today
From the Scranton Times-Tribune
Written by Sarah Hofius Hall (Staff Writer for Scranton Times-Tribune)
Read source article on thetimes-tribune.com
May 15, 2012 - West Scranton High School senior Christopher Ajodha had a choice to make: get vaccinated or be banned from school today.
His choice was easy on Monday morning, as he took his shirt off to reveal his upper arm. Nurse Angela Pryal gave the 17-year-old a couple of quick shots, a bandage and paperwork to allow him into school.
But in Scranton, 239 students do not have the correct paperwork, and starting today, will be forbidden from attending school. Numbers in other districts range from full compliance to between 25 and 30 students being banned, including in Valley View.
For most districts statewide, the deadline is today for students to submit proof of vaccinations, or paperwork for a medical exemption or exemption on religious, moral or ethical grounds to school officials. Families have had more than eight months to be in compliance, and a two-week deadline was given last month.
New state regulations require children in all grades to receive second doses of mumps and chickenpox vaccines. Students in seventh grade are now also required to have one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) and one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
In Luzerne County it was a similar story. Hundreds of students there have not had their vaccines, but some school officials said the students will be able to attend school.
In Wyoming Valley West School District, hundreds of students did not fulfill immunization requirements but the number has been dwindling, said Superintendent Chuck Suppon. The school nurse and school officials have been in touch with families about complying with state regulations, he said. The students will not be excluded for the rest of the year, he said.
"We only have 19 school days left. To exclude a student at this time is almost ridiculous at this point," Mr. Suppon said.
At Pittston Area, hundreds still did not receive all the vaccinations as of Monday, said Superintendent George Cosgrove. If students have a written moral religious objection or are making a "good faith effort" to get the vaccines, they will not be excluded from school, he said.
At a Regional Hospital of Scranton's Healthy Kids Immunization Clinic held Monday in Dunmore, a line started outside before 8:30 a.m. By 9:15, the names of 30 children were on the sign-in sheet.
Fellowship Hall at Dunmore United Methodist Church had become a clinic, and families anticipated waits of several hours for the no-cost vaccines.
For Christopher, getting the vaccines on Monday was a necessity.
His mother, Yvette Surujballi, said she did not know about the deadline until the school notified her last week.
The wait to get a doctor's appointment was too long for the Sabino family of Scranton, so sisters Elianna, 11, and Elianis, 14, came to the clinic.
"It didn't hurt, but if felt weird when it was inside," Elianna said, touching her bandage.
After receiving the shots, children got the correct paperwork to take back to school, along with cookies, juice and a lollipop.
In Scranton, almost 800 students were without the vaccines two weeks ago. That number is down to 239. Nurses have notified parents whose children have not submitted paperwork that they will not be allowed in school today, Superintendent William King said.
They will not be allowed back in school until they have proof of vaccination or proof of an appointment, and the missed days will be considered unexcused absences, Mr. King said.
Valley View held several clinics for students, and nurses have made personal phone calls to parents. Between 25 and 30 high school students are still without vaccines, Valley View Superintendent Donald Kanavy said.
Those students will be excluded from school today, he said.