Vaccination records keep kids out of classrooms

August 22, 2011 4:09:13 PM PDT
As with every first day of school, you can often expect the unexpected. Dozens of parents in Spring Branch ISD learned that the hard way Monday morning when their kids were not immediately allowed in the classroom.

There are two grades in which parents are required to show proof of vaccination under Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines: kindergarten and 7th grade, and that can put a snag in the first day of school.

More than 100 new 7th graders reported to the cafeteria instead of the classroom this morning at Spring Branch Middle School. The issue -- shot records. In particular, proof was needed that the kids had gotten a dose of the meningococcal vaccine.

The kids were allowed in the classroom only after a parent showed up to the school with the shot record or a doctor's note. By lunchtime, only six or eight remained out of class.

For most parents, it wasn't a big deal

"The vaccinations? Yeah we didn't fall into that issue," parent Jerry Williams said.

The district did send out notices, including a final request at the end of summer break.

State law requires 7th graders to have had the following vaccines: diptheria/tetanus/pertussis, MMR, polio, hepatitis B, varicella booster and meningococcal.

In many cases, schools are allowed to provisionally enroll students if the student has an immunization record that indicates the student has received at least one dose of each specified age-appropriate vaccine required by this rule.

But the meningococcal vaccine is only administered in one dose, so school districts can refuse provisional enrollment.

Vaccinations weren't the only back-to-school hiccup in Spring Branch.

At Woodview Elementary, a mid-day lockdown was enforced while police searched for home invasion suspects. Houston police arrested two men and the lockdown was lifted less than an hour later. Spring Branch ISD police say all of the kids were inside the building already.

A Houston ISD spokesperson told us on the phone that HISD 7th graders without shot records are allowed to enroll provisionally, but the records are required within a certain time period.

There is an exemption if parents have a religious, medical or philosophical objection to vaccinations. That paperwork is available on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, which you can also visit for more information about what immunizations your school-age child needs and when.


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