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Pennsylvania Vaccination Requirements

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The purpose of this letter is to remind every parent of the requirements of Pennsylvania law, which offers options besides vaccination for school attendance, and the legal duty of school administrations to fully inform parents of those options. This duty is set forth in the Pennsylvania Code, Title 28, Subchapter C, Immunization, §23.85, Responsibilities of Schools and School Administrators, a copy of which is enclosed for your convenience. Subsection 23.85(a)(1) requires school administrators to appoint a knowledgeable person to inform a parent, guardian or emancipated child of Subchapter C requirements. Subchapter C includes §23.84, Exemption from Immunization, which provides students the options of attending school under a medical or religious/ethical exemption from immunization. Moreover, §23.85(d) mandates that students are to be admitted to school or allowed to continue attending upon submitting information sufficient for a §23.84 immunization exemption.

 

There are currently two exemptions to vaccinations: (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. (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 last change in the timeframe the children had to be vaccinated was a circus in districts across PA. School districts were neglecting to tell parents of their rights.   Notices to parents stated they had so many days to get the children vaccinated when school started.  The district failed to mention any exemptions.  Every communication sounded as if it was mandatory.  Staff nurses intimidated parents that weren’t up on their vaccines and threatened to send children home even after informed parents were pushing back.  That’s just wrong.  I don’t care what side of the vaccine issue you are on, I’m only asking that the parent is told the ENTIRE story and let the parents make the decisions for their own children.  It’s a conversation between the parent and the doctor.  So if the vaccine is mandatory with certain exemptions, the parent should be told just that.  The exemption form should be easily available, and the district should accept the exemption forms.

 

The district should not act like they forgot to mention the exemptions.  They should not act like they don’t know anything about the exemptions or where to find the form.  And when the form is submitted, they shouldn’t act as if they don’t understand the form, or that the parent is lying.  They also shouldn’t take it upon themselves to school the parent on the vaccine.  Trust me, if the parent is completing the exemption form, they know more about the vaccine than the school nurse.  Parents will even tell you the difference between vaccination and immunization. Just because you are vaccinated does not mean you are immune.

 

The patient’s consent must also be “informed.” A patient must have been given a description of the proposed medical procedure or treatment and have been informed about the risks of the procedure or treatment. The patient must also be informed of the viable alternatives a reasonable person would consider important to know in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to undergo the procedure, treatment, or operation. For information on fighting back – http://informedconsentpa.org/resources/pa-school-regulations-toolkit/

 

Please contact your PA Senator and Representative to inform them that your school district is misinforming parents. Please ask your state legislator to protect existing exemptions and ask that they initiate legislation that would require schools to accurately inform parents of the vaccine regulations (including exemptions) as this topic is vitally important to you. Schools must be required to tell the truth and MUST be held accountable for lying.

 

Raeann Hofkin, Palm PA

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