Parents get 20-day grace period for student vaccinations

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Anne Marie Tiernon/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - This year, getting ready for school means more than buying supplies. It also means getting new shots required by the state by the first day of school. There is so much demand on doctors and school nurses that deadline extensions are being offered.

Mary Kate Myers of Fishers has four children. So far three of them meet the state's new immunization guidelines for fall.

"I thought I had everyone covered but then I got a note from the school nurse for my kindergartner that my incoming first grader needed a second chicken pox booster so I've ignored that all summer and now I am trying to get it done," she said.

"I think everyone thinks I have a whole summer, and the summer is gone," said Sandra Hollingshead, Hamilton Southeastern assistant superintendent.

So are the appointments on doctor's schedules.

"The doctor couldn't get him for weeks and I wanted them before school started," said Brandy Dandridge, Indianapolis mother.

There is plenty of vaccine at public clinics like the one at the Pecar Health Center..

"Didn't realize there would be this many people," said Teri Miller, Brownsburg.

It's not an errand you'll get done over a lunch hour.

"I just called my boss and told him it might be a while," said Miller.

Look for a larger crowd at the back to school health fair Saturday.

"The line starts forming about 5:00 am and we are expecting throughout the day 20,000 people," said Pamela Humes, director of Covering Kids and Families.

The largest impact is for students entering 6 through 12th grades.

"They actually need 23 different vaccines - a TDAP, which is the tetanus we get every ten years and it now has a pertussis component to protect against whopping cough. Then the meningitis vaccine as well as a second dose of vericella or chicken pox," said Melissa McMasters, RN with Marion County Health Department.

The buses start rolling at Hamilton Southeastern in two weeks, yet only 1,000 out of 7,000 students have their heath records verified, so the district is extending the first day of school deadline.

"Giving the 20-day extension creates a little bit of breathing room," said Hollingshead.

It's good news for Mary Kate Myers, who is still coming up with a game plan for Evan.

"It was a relief to know he can go to school on the first day and they are not going to, you know, kick him out of school," she said.

There is a 20-day grace period in the state law. IPS says they are now extending their deadline to September 20th.

Marion County vaccination clinics

Notice to parents:

New immunizations will be required in order for students to attend the first day of school, August 11, 2010. These new requirements for grades 6-12 include:

· Proof of 2 varicella (chickenpox) vaccines OR parent written report of disease history OR physician laboratory evidence of immunity

· One meningococcal (MCV4) vaccine

· One Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster received after the child's 10th birthday

We highly recommend that you go to your child's health care provider, the health department or another location to obtain the needed shots as soon as possible. This is your best option as physician offices and health departments are typically very busy during the summer months and may not have an appointment available for you as we get closer to the first day of school.

Once your child has received the required immunizations, please send a copy of the updated record to the school nurse for review and file updates. Again, we are requesting that you send your child's updated immunization record to the school nurse before May 28th.