CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Parents may have one more item on their list of back-to-school preparations this year thanks to changes to state vaccination schedules by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). The time for students to get vaccinated has been shortened from within eight months of the first day of school to just five days. The DOH says children are to have at least one dose of required vaccinations prior to the start of kindergarten or risk being sent home. Proof that additional doses are scheduled for multi-dose vaccinations is also required within the first week of school.
According to medical providers at Summit Health immunizations protect both the child vaccinated and the community. While many parents have questions regarding vaccinations, providers at Summit Health are encouraging them to have conversations with their child’s medical provider to help them make informed decisions.
“Vaccines have been well studied,” said Dr. Leo Kratz of Summit Primary Care – Mont Alto Health Center. “Vaccines are safe and help to protect children from diseases that can sometimes be devastating.”
While the required vaccinations protect against 14 serious childhood diseases, teenagers are also encouraged to get the HPV vaccine, which protects against the human papilloma virus; a known cause of cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends teenagers start the vaccine at age 12, but reports only six out of 10 girls and five out of 10 boys have started the HPV vaccine series nationwide. The HPV vaccine is not required by Pennsylvania schools. Providers at Summit Primary Care often get questions from parents regarding this specific vaccine, and encourage parents to discuss their concerns with medical professionals.
Quick notes for parents:
For attendance in all grades, students need: four doses of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; four doses of polio; three doses of hepatitis b; two doses of chickenpox; and two doses of MMR (mumps, measles and rubella).
At least one dose is required for kindergarten and proof of a vaccine schedule is required within the first five days of school.
Before starting 7th grade, students will need one dose of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) and one dose of MCV, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
Students will need MCV again before starting 12th grade or after they turn 16.
HPV vaccine is strongly encouraged for teenagers to protect against cervical cancer and other related cancers.
Parents are encouraged to speak with their child’s primary care physician regarding vaccination needs and concerns.
Summit Health has dedicated resources for families available online here.
Other back to school resources can be found here.
Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, urgent care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.