As of May 7, Pennsylvania's new immunization law could keep some students home from school.
Approximately 300 Southern Lehigh students are not up-to-date on their immunization records, reported superintendent Leah Christman at
The law, which went into effect for the 2011-12 school year, gave families eight months to comply with the new law. Christman said that as of the spring holiday weekend, those 300 families had not responded to emails and letters sent home.
"We've attempted to reach out to the families of those students, and as of now, have not gotten any response," said Christman.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the new law required that, on top of the routine vaccinations, students must now have:
- Two chicken pox vaccinations, or evidence of immunity
- A vaccine for TdaP (Tetanus and diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine)
- A vaccine for MCV (Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
The new law does make exceptions (from the PA DOH website):
(a) Medical exemption. Children need not be immunized if a physician or the physician’s designee provides a written statement that immunization may be detrimental to the health of the child. When the physician determines that immunization is no longer detrimental to the health of the child, the child shall be immunized according to this subchapter.
(b) Religious exemption. Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.
The school will start reaching out to families after April 18, allowing the district time to compile a comprehensive list. Superintendent Christman hopes it won't come to that.
"The minimum we need is proof of a doctor's appointment [for student immunizations]. We certainly don't want to keep kids away from school."