News

For Immediate Release
August 7, 2014

State education and health agencies issue reminder for immunizations as students head back to school


August marks National Immunization Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD — As Illinois students prepare to start a new school year, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourage parents and guardians to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date. The IDPH has implemented a few changes in the current requirements.

Beginning this fall, the hepatitis B vaccination requirement has been adapted to apply to students entering sixth grade instead of students entering fifth grade. Also, students must show proof of having received two doses each of the live rubella and mumps virus vaccines. In addition, any child entering kindergarten, sixth grade or ninth grade for the first time shall show proof of having received two doses of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine. The IDPH rule requiring students for all grades sixth through twelfth to show proof of receiving the Tdap vaccine, a booster shot for continued protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, is still in effect. ISBE’s Immunization Quick Reference Guide provides additional details about the 2014-2015 requirements.

“Immunizations help to ensure that students are happy, healthy and ready to take on the new school year,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “If a student falls victim to any one of these diseases, it could result in the student missing school, parents missing work and potentially putting other family members’ health at risk.”

The State of Illinois requires vaccinations to protect children from a variety of diseases before they can enter school. For school entrance, students must show proof of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, haemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis b, varicella and pneumococcal (depending on age) vaccinations.  For more information about immunizations, including vaccination schedules, visit www.idph.state.il.us/about/shots.htm.

“This year’s new requirements come on the heels of two separate mumps outbreaks in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.  “Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily pass illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and crowded settings.  It’s important that all students are up to date on their vaccinations – not only to protect themselves, but other students, teachers, friends and family.”

A new vaccine requirement has been proposed for the 2015-2016 school year. If passed, IDPH rules will require students entering sixth and twelfth grade to receive an immunization containing meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4).

August marks National Immunization Awareness Month (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/default.htm) which aims to educate people of all ages about the importance of protecting their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.

In addition to immunizations, all students enrolling in kindergarten in a public or private school and any student enrolling for the first time in Illinois (with the exception of preschoolers) must have an eye examination. The eye exam needs to be performed by a licensed optometrist or medical doctor who performs eye exams and is licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All eye exams must be completed within one year prior to Oct. 15.

Furthermore, all students enrolled in kindergarten and the second and sixth grades are required to have a dental examination.

Also, all children must complete a physical examination prior to entering Illinois schools for the first time, prior to the date of entering kindergarten or first grade, prior to entering sixth grade, and prior to entering ninth grade. The exam includes gender and date of birth; an evaluation of height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, skin, eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth/dental; cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genito-urinary, neurological, and musculoskeletal evaluations; spinal examination; evaluation of nutritional status; lead screening; and other evaluations deemed necessary by the health-care provider. Illinois’ health exam requirements are aligned with recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on adolescent vaccinations.

Parents and guardians should contact their health-care provider, local health department or pharmacy to schedule an appointment to receive the recommended and required vaccinations. It is important to keep an immunization record card for your child’s entry into school.

IDPH offers a “Parents Guide to Childhood Immunizations” at www.idph.state.il.us/about/pgci.htm. There is also the Illinois Help Me Grow helpline at 1-800-323-GROW (voice and TTY) for additional immunization information. For parents who may not be able to afford immunizations, IDPH lists the Vaccines for Children program, which is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. For information, call (312) 746-6050 in Chicago or (217) 785-1455 for the rest of the state.

For additional information about immunizations in Illinois, visit:

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