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January 10, 2013

2 doses of chickenpox vaccine required next year

New rule will ‘fill the gap’ between grade levels

BLOOMINGTON — Starting next school year, K-12 students must have two doses of varicella chickenpox vaccine, or have documented history of having chickenpox.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced on Wednesday school immunization requirements for the 2013-14 school year for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Currently, students in grades K-2 and 6-12 must have two doses of varicella vaccine and students in grades 3-5 are only required to have one dose. The new requirement “fills in the gap” between those grade levels, according to Amanda Turney, spokeswoman for the department, and addresses recent cases of chickenpox in the state.

“We’ve had five outbreaks of chickenpox in the last six months, and three were school based,” Turney said.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will have to have their history of chickenpox documented by a health care provider, according to Turney.

The department also recommends students in kindergarten have two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine and students in 11th and 12th grades have booster dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine.

The issue of immunization can be a hot topic among parents who fear side effects.

Parents in Indiana may opt out of vaccinating their children due to religious beliefs or medical conditions. A written statement declaring these reasons must be submitted to the child’s school.

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On the web

• Immunization records for Indiana residents are available through https://myvaxindiana.in.gov. A complete listing of all school immunization requirements is available at www.state.in.us/isdh/17094.htm.

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