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May 4, 2001 Search www.feat.org/search/news.asp
Students Without Measles Shots Barred From Classes
[By Martha Raffaele, Associated Press.]
Harrisburg, Pa. - In an effort to get parents to comply with a state
health regulation, children who cannot prove they have been immunized
against measles are being barred from class.
In 1997, the state set a deadline of eight months from the beginning
of the 2000-01 school year for students to get two measles shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends
measles vaccinations for children on or after their first birthday and again
between the ages of 4 and 6.
The state Health Department has not yet updated the number of children
who still need to present proof of a second measles shot, spokesman Richard
McGarvey said Tuesday. The department hopes to complete a statewide survey
of school districts by Friday, he said.
Nurses in Pittsburgh gave shots to 650 students on Monday, which was
that district's deadline, health coordinator Jeannine French said. However,
the district is offering clinics through the end of the week because 1,100
students still have not shown proof of a second measles shot.
In the East Stroudsburg Area School District, parents of about 50
children who missed a Tuesday deadline will receive letters from school
officials, warning them to have their children immunized.
"The kids cannot be out indefinitely, and we have to make sure they're
immunized," said Doug Arnold, director of pupil services. "If the child
isn't in school, then the loser is the child."
* * *
Immunization Lack Means Return Of Eradicated Diseases
More than 900,000 American children are not routinely immunized, the
consequence of which may be a revival of nearly eradicated diseases, say UT
Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas physicians.
Allaying the fears of parents about vaccine side effects and
motivating and educating others to have their children routinely immunized
is the purpose of National Infant Immunization Week, which ends April 28th.
Widespread childhood immunization in the past decades has freed
parents from fear. Polio, whose frequent outbreaks caused panic only 50
years ago, is now a distant memory in the United States, and smallpox has
been wiped out around the world.
"We now have a generation of young parents who aren't familiar with
these diseases," said Dr. Jane Siegel, professor of pediatrics at UT
Southwestern. "They've never had to worry about polio. We have to learn from
Siegel, who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases, points out
that several diseases remain far from wiped out:
* Pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks are frequent.
* Thousands of children who had not been immunized contracted measles
in 1989-91 outbreaks in U.S. urban areas, and an ongoing risk of exposure to
measles remains in other countries and from foreign individuals entering the
United States. In fact, a 1999 study published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association reported that children who weren't immunized
against measles were 35 times more likely to contract the disease than those
who had received the vaccine.
Still, many parents remain wary of vaccines. Most recently, concerns
have surfaced about Prevnar, which protects against such pneumococcal
diseases as meningitis, pneumonia and bloodstream infection.
Fear of immunizations was heightened in 1999 when the vaccine for
rotavirus, a form of intestinal flu that affects young infants, was pulled
from use because of increased risk (1 in 5,000) of bowel obstruction
"It was unfortunate, but it was caught early by the ongoing safety
monitoring systems," Siegel said. "Prevnar is a totally different type of
vaccine. It is very similar to the other meningitis vaccine (Hib), which has
proven to be extremely safe and effective. We can't draw any analogy between
Prevnar and the rotavirus vaccine."
Article continues at: http://unisci.com/stories/20012/0425012.htm
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