WILKES-BARRE — As Pennsylvania students prepare to head back to school this fall, the Wolf Administration urges parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated for protection against life-threatening diseases.
“Now is the perfect time to get your children up-to-date on their vaccinations before the start of the new school year,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “When children aren’t vaccinated, they are at greater risk of developing serious illnesses such as hepatitis B, influenza, measles, meningitis, and mumps. Unvaccinated children can also spread these vaccine-preventable diseases to others in their classrooms and community, especially young children who are too young to be fully vaccinated and those with weakened immune systems.”
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, reminding people of all ages to make sure their vaccine records are up-to-date. Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from serious childhood diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very dangerous, may require hospitalization, or even result in death.
In 2017, state regulations changed the provisional period in which students could attend school without their vaccinations from eight months to five days. Children in grades K-12 need the following immunizations for attendance: four doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP); three doses of hepatitis B; two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); four doses of polio; and two doses of, or evidence of immunity, from chickenpox.
Students entering the seventh grade also need the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) and diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. A second dose of the MCV is now required for all 12th-grade students to protect against meningitis. If a child does not have at least one dose of these vaccinations, he or she can be excluded from school.
Sometimes children experience mild reactions from vaccines, such as pain at the injection site, a rash, or a fever, all of which are normal and temporary.
These regulations allow for the following exemptions: medical reason; religious belief; or philosophical/strong moral or ethical conviction.
Even if your child is exempt from immunizations, he or she may be excluded from school during a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans, including those bought through the federal Marketplace, are required to cover school vaccinations as a free preventive service without charging a co-payment or coinsurance, regardless of whether or not you have met your yearly deductible.
States intend to sue over
rollback of emission rules
A recent report says abandoning new federal standards will cost Americans between $193 billion and $236 billion more on gas and add carbon emissions equivalent to 400 million more cars.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia in releasing the following joint statement announcing an intention to challenge the Trump Administration’s “illegal and environmentally-destructive plan to roll back federal limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks.”
The coalition includes every state attorney general from jurisdictions that have adopted California’s more stringent standards to reduce vehicle emissions, improve miles-per-gallon, and save drivers money on gas.
Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C., issued the following statement:
“Federal rules to limit tailpipe pollution and improve fuel economy are our best strategy to reduce carbon pollution, improve air quality, and save drivers money on gas. The Administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump.
“If adopted, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rollbacks will cost American drivers hundreds of billions of dollars. Freezing or weakening these standards puts the health of our children, seniors, and all communities at risk, and increases the rising costs of climate change for our states.
“This decision upends decades of cooperative state and federal action to protect our residents. We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”
Gov. Wolf urges Congress to
fund election security upgrades
Gov. Tom Wolf this week sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation urging them to provide an additional $380 million in Election Assistance Commission (EAC) grants to support efforts by state and local governments to meet the highest standards of election preparedness and integrity.
“Citizens should and must be confident that our elections are secure and fair,” Wolf said in a press release. “Congress has a responsibility to ensure that states have the resources to guarantee our voting infrastructure is protected from external threats.”
The governor added, “Congress should allocate additional funding to the states to protect the confidence and integrity of a foundation of our democracy – elections. This is a significant opportunity for all levels of government, federal, state and local, to work together to support our nation and its voting infrastructure.”
The Wolf administration has taken several steps to further strengthen election security. In April, the governor directed all counties to have voting systems that produce a paper record, so voters can verify their ballot by the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, Governor Wolf announced a new Inter-Agency Election Preparedness and Security Workgroup consisting of eight state agencies and offices that will collaborate on increasing security resources, training, support, information, and preparation at all levels of election administration.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.