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Indiana Back-to-School Requirements Include Vaccines

For entrance into kindergarten, students must show proof of vaccinations against several diseases.Credit: queensu/Flickr
For entrance into kindergarten, students must show proof of vaccinations against several diseases.
Credit: queensu/Flickr
August 3, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS – As Indiana families prepare to send their children back to class, state health officials say immunizations should be on the back-to-school checklist.

For entrance into kindergarten, students must show proof of vaccinations against several diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles.

David McCormick, division director of the Indiana State Department of Health Immunization Program, says there are additional requirements for older students.

"We require that every child entering sixth grade have a dose of MCV4, which would protect against meningococcal disease,” he explains. “Then they have an additional Tdap, which would protect against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, and they have to be current on their varicella requirement."

Students entering their senior year need a booster dose of the meningococcal vaccine.

Families that object to vaccinations on religious grounds are not legally required to obtain the immunizations, but the parent must present a signed statement to the school district detailing the grounds for objection.

Medical exemptions are also allowed and require a doctor's note explaining why each vaccine is medically conflicting.

McCormick stresses that the state does not allow immunization exemptions based on philosophical beliefs.

"So if it's just a personal belief or you just don't like immunization requirements that does not meet the requirement for not having your child immunized," he points out.

A multi-state measles outbreak this year did not impact Indiana, which McCormick believes is due to the state's high immunization rates.

The federal government and researchers acknowledge that no vaccine is 100 percent safe or effective and no public health official or vaccine provider can determine who will be protected or harmed by a vaccine. The National Vaccine Information Center has more information on each states' policies and where parents can find more research on the benefits and risk of various vaccines.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN