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Date: 12-06-2017

New national immunization laws set

In addition to immunizations already required for school children to attend public schools, state law will require Hepatitis A shots for all students and a meningitis booster for those 16 and older, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.

While that sounds like plenty of time, that's not necessarily the case for the Hepatitis A vaccine, which comes in a two-part series. The shots must be given six months apart.

Lawrence County Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that she and her staff are encouraging parents to start the series of shots asap.

Lawrence Co. Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that parents should sign up for the new immunizations as soon as possible.Lawrence Co. Health Dept. director Debbie Miller said today that parents should sign up for the new immunizations as soon as possible."The new immunization requirements go into effect July 1, 2018. All children from 19 months through 12th grade who attend daycare, primary or secondary schools will be required to have completed the two-part Hepatitis A series prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year," Miller said.

"The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses with a minimum of six months between doses. Our nurses are encouraging clients to start the series now," Miller added.

Kentucky's new immunization guidelines were adopted before the recent Hepatitis A outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the Hepatitis A and meningitis vaccines for schoolchildren for some time, she said.

"Regarding the Hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky, there have been no cases reported in Lawrence County or any of our surrounding counties,Miller told The Lazer.  "The majority of the cases are in the Louisville area. We are participating in weekly conference calls with Kentucky Department for Public Health as they monitor and respond to the outbreak."

Other states have already adopted (these immunization guidelines), Lile said. Kentucky officials updated the state's standards in June to become compliant with national recommendations.

To complete the Hepatitis A two-shot series by the time school starts, students should have their first shot by Feb. 1, Lile said.

School districts want all students to complete the Hepatitis A series before starting school, but will accept students who have had their first shot only -- on a conditional basis, said Wendi Kozel, DCPS district nurse. After the first shot's six-month waiting period ends, students will have a two-week window to get the second Hepatitis A shot before their immunization certificate becomes invalid.

Kentucky allows medical and religious exemptions for vaccines, Kozel said. Every student must provide one of three certificates -- a current vaccination record, medical exemption or religious exemption -- to start the school year.

"As a reminder, good hand washing with soap and water is one of the most important steps we can take to keep from getting sick and from spreading germs to others," Lawrence County's Miller said.

For more information on when to wash your hands and how to wash them properly, visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html.

By Renee Beasley Jones
The Messenger-Inquirer

Lazer Editor Mark Grayson contributed to this story

 

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