In about a month, most Texas students will be returning to school for the start of a new school year. That is how much time parents have to make sure their kids have all the state-required vaccinations, or the right exemptions. Students will not be allowed in either public or private schools or child care facilities without these requirements. Even Texas colleges have vaccination rules.
Before the start of the school year, Texas students will be required to be vaccinated against Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), hepatitis A and B, varicella (chicken pox) and bacterial meningitis.
None of the standards has changed for this year, but some requirements are different from grade to grade, with multiple doses required for some vaccines. Some of it is complicated. For example, for the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine, a student entering grades kindergarten through sixth, needs to have had five doses, with some exceptions. A seventh-grader needs a tetanus booster if five years have passed since the last vaccination. For grades eight through 12, a tetanus booster is needed if the gap has been at least 10 years. Incoming college and university students are required to receive the MCV4 vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis.
While vaccines are available at doctors’ offices and other health care facilities, the Texas Vaccines for Children program offer free or reduced-cost vaccinations for students who meet income requirements.
MEDICAL EXCEPTIONS FOR GETTING VACCINATED
Students who have had measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A or B or varicella and whose parents can produce blood test results indicating immunity don’t need to get the vaccines. A note from a doctor, nurse or parent or guardian attesting that the student had chicken pox and when exempts the student from that vaccine. Students who have physical conditions that make vaccinations harmful can get a letter from their doctor.
Texas law allows parents to claim an exemption for “reasons of conscience, including religious belief.” Parents wanting to invoke that must file the appropriate forms with the state, either by mail or online. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, just under 8 out of 10 of a percent of students fell in this category for the 2014-15 school year. That’s 40,997 students. For the 2007-08 school year, a bit over 2/10 of a percent of students were not immunized because of objections of conscience, or 10,404 students.
More than 6,500 providers statewide offer the vaccines to children who are uninsured or under-insured,covered by CHIP, of American Indian or Native Alaskan heritage or on Medicaid. The Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton health departments have immunization clinics listed on their websites.