The District announced new immunization requirements for all of its students Tuesday, designed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which will apply starting this fall. The new requirements stress the importance of every student having current vaccinations.
“Families need to make sure students are up-to-date on vaccines and all other requirements so that they are set to learn on the first day of school,” said Superintendent William Hite in a statement. “We cannot overstate the importance of making sure our students are attending school every day, on time, and that they are healthy and ready to learn when they are in school.”
The change will bring the District's policy in line with the policy of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which revised its immunization requirements for students this month.
Under these changes, high school seniors now need an additional dose of the MCV vaccine to prevent meningitis, a life-threatening disease that is particularly common among young people. It also requires students to get a fourth dose of the polio vaccine, including one at age 4 or later.
One in five U.S. teenagers are not vaccinated for meningitis, and despite the dramatic reduction in polio cases over recent generations, there were still 37 people diagnosed with polio in 2016 alone.
“We are happy to see that the state has updated immunization requirements for students this school year,” said Thomas Farley, health commissioner of the City of Philadelphia, in a statement. “This is an important change that will ensure that our children stay healthy and safe.”
The District trained nurses on the new requirements, sent weekly robo-calls to families, and is partnering with the city Department of Public Health to provide meningitis vaccinations for incoming high school seniors at the Education Center on the third floor of District headquarters, 440 N. Broad St.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health worked with health-care providers to prepare them for the changes and reached out to tens of thousands of students who need further vaccinations.
“We strongly encourage parents to make an appointment with their child’s pediatrician this summer to make sure they have all of the recommended immunizations,” Farley said. “Parents that do not have a regular pediatrician can call the City District Health Centers at 215-685-2933 for more information.”