News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 16, 2013

Vigo pox outbreak speeds state mandate

All kids in K through 12th grade now need to show two valid chickenpox vaccines

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County’s chickenpox outbreak last fall, then described as the largest in the nation, helped expedite a new state immunization requirement.

“Indiana has changed its vaccine requirement for school entry,” said Joni Wise, Vigo County Health Department administrator.

For the 2013-2014 school year, every student in kindergarten through 12th grade is required to have a record documenting two valid doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine or a documented history of chickenpox disease.

Students from kindergarten through fifth grade will need to have their histories of chickenpox disease documented by a health care provider.

With Vigo County School Corp. classes scheduled to start Monday, school and health officials want to remind families about chickenpox and other vaccination requirements.

If there are children who need the chickenpox or other vaccinations within families who lack insurance, those families can call the Vigo County Health Department clinic at 812-462-3431 to see if they qualify and then make an appointment.

 The health department participates in the Vaccinations For Children program (VFC), a federal program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

Indiana State University’s Sycamore Nursing Center also offers immunization clinics and participates in the VFC program. For more information, call 812-237-3696.

Many private providers participate in VFC as well, Wise said.

The chickenpox doses must be appropriately administered, Wise said. The first dose must be on or after the first birthday, and the second dose at least 28 days later.

“One thing we found last fall was that some students had received two doses, but they were not properly administered, and the second dose had to be regiven,” Wise said.

She also cautioned that even with two doses, children still can get a mild case of the disease, “but there are fewer hospital and health issues,” Wise said.

The state announced the changes in January, citing five chickenpox outbreaks throughout the state, including the one in Vigo.

Because of the outbreak here, all students had to receive two vaccinations, demonstrate a history of the disease or face exclusion from school. The community had mass vaccination clinics late last year.

As a result, most VCSC students should be fully immunized this year, said Carol Lucas, VCSC chairwoman of nursing services.

 Parents can get immunization records from their health care provider or use the secure website, www.My VaxIndiana.in.gov, to print their child’s official immunization record from home by using a personal identification number (PIN).

Vaccines that are highly recommended, but not required this year, include two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine for students entering kindergarten and a booster dose of meningococcal conjugate (meningitis) vaccine for adolescents ages 16 to 18.

Wise noted that recommended vaccinations usually become future requirements.

For more information about school immunization requirements, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at www.StateHealth.in.gov.

 

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.