The Minnesota Department of Health is proposing a change to the state's immunization rules that would increase the number of secondary school vaccines and require hepatitis vaccination for child care.
In a release, MDH said the proposed changes would bring the law up-to-date with recommendations and practices by introducing the following requirements for children in child care and grades pre-K through 12:
- Require Hepatitis A and B vaccination for children enrolling in child care or early-childhood programs based in school
- Replace the current seventh-grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccine with another that includes pertussis, known as Tdap.
- Require secondary students to receive meningococcal vaccination beginning in seventh grade.
If approved, the changes would go into effect in September 2014, but the medical exemption for parents to decline any or all vaccines for conscientious reasons will remain.
NO PUBLIC HEARING PLANNED
The department does not plan to hold a public hearing on the proposed change unless 25 or more people submit a written request for one before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31.
Information on how to request a hearing, or to comment on the rules, can be found online here: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/immunize/immrule/public.html
The Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota is criticizing the move to add additional immunizations to what the group describes as "an already overloaded childhood shot schedule" where some children are given 36 vaccine doses before reaching 18 months of age.
According to the organization, local advocates plan to oppose the revision because they argue members of the fedreal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices often have conflicts of interest and profit from ties with manufacturers. They also cite concerns of health damage due to overvaccination and ongoing investigations into vaccine malfeasance as reasons to be cautious.
"The use of vaccinations evolved from initial efforts to control severe epidemics affecting large numbers of people. Today, we vaccinate children for many diseases they likely will not be exposed to," said Jerri Johnson of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota. "This changes the risk-to-benefit ratio; a child may be more likely to suffer damage from a vaccine than from exposure to the disease it is intended to prevent."
CDC RECOMMENDS UPDATE
The Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices and other professional groups have recommended the changes.
"These changes bring Minnesota's immunization requirements up to date with current, evidence-based national immunizations recommendations," said Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases for MDH. "Our ultimate goal is to make sure all children in Minnesota have the opportunity to be protected from these diseases that can cause serious illness or even death – but that can be prevented through simple vaccination."
RULE REVISION SUMMARY
- The law would require documentation of vaccinations or legal exemptions in all grades going forward. Current law only requires record keeping for grades K-7.
- The updated law would require schools to submit their Annual Immunization Status Reports directly to the state department of health instead of to the Minnesota Department of Education as they currently do.
- Child Care providers will have to submit their AISR information to the Minnesota Department of Human Services instead of directly to MDH. DHS will forward the aggregate immunization data to MDH.
- It would expand immunization law to cover school-based early childhood programs that meet at least once a week for six weeks or more.
- Bump up the age for the chickenpox vaccine to 15 months from 18 months of age for children enrolled in child care and early education.
- Change the vaccination schedule for polio and Tdap administration to match current medical standards.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/immunize/immrule/changes.html