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New School Year Ushers in New Vaccine Requirements in Kentucky

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As many Kentucky students head back to school this week, the state Department for Public Health is reminding parents to make sure children and teens are up to date on their vaccines

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade must show proof of having received two doses of the Hepatitis-A vaccine to attend school.  The commonwealth is in the grips of a Hepatitis-A outbreak with more than 400 confirmed cases in the past year.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard says thanks to the new immunization requirements, few children have contracted the liver infection.

"The case in point for the importance of vaccination against Hepatitis-A is the current outbreak," Howard told WKU Public Radio. "What we're seeing is very low case reports among children, despite the outbreak, because many of them are already vaccinated."

If a child has not yet received the second dose of the Hep A vaccine before the school year begins, the child's Certificate of Immunization Status will be considered "provisional" and will expire 14 days from the date the second dose is required.

Students who are 16 years and older must also receive two doses of the Meningococcal  vaccine.  Meningococcus is a bacterial infection that affects the central nervous system. 

The CDC has recommended both vaccines for school-age children for several years, though Kentucky just began requiring them under a state law that took effect on July 1.

If parents oppose having their children vaccinated, there is a medical and a religious exemption process listed on the Kentucky Department of Education website.

Copyright 2018 WKU Public Radio

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.