Q & A on Immunization Requirements (Updated September 2003)

Q: Is there still a nationwide tetanus and diphtheria toxoid (Td) shortage?

A:

Vaccine supplies have improved enough to allow health care providers to resume routine administration of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccines, including a DTaP booster and a second dose of MMR at ages 4-6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These are required immunizations for school.

Q:

Is the hepatitis B vaccine required for students Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 6 for entry into school?

A:

Yes. The requirement for hepatitis B is implemented in a progressive manner until all the students are immunized starting with entry into school.

Q:

Will high school students (grades 9 through 12) be excluded from school in 2003 for non-compliance with the hepatitis B law?

A:

High school students will not be excluded from school in September 2003 due to an extension granted by the Department of Health and Senior Services. Starting in September 2004, all high school students will be expected to receive the hepatitis B vaccine as required by law.

Q:

Will a grace period be issued this year (September 2003) for those students entering grade 6 who have not received the hepatitis B vaccine?

A:

No grace period will be issued this year. Students who have begun the series can be issued a provisional status and are monitored to ensure that subsequent doses are administered as required (2nd dose two months after the first dose and 3rd dose 6 to 10 months after the first dose).

Q:

Are there any exemptions to the mandatory immunization regulations?

A:

Yes, a medical exemption is acceptable from a licensed doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy or more recently, advanced practice nurse. A parent/guardian may still request a religious exemption by submitting a written statement to the school or child care center which explains how the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student’s exercise of religious tenets and practices. For further information regarding exemptions, please go the Department of Health and Senior Services’ web site: www.state.nj.us/health/cd/chap14.htm.

Q:

Is there any information on the Varicella mandate?

A:

The Department of Health and Senior Services has proposed a regulation that effective September 1, 2003, every child attending or entering preschools, pre-kindergarten, or child care centers who are over 19 months of age will be required to have received one dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, on or after the first birthday. Children, who present either documented laboratory evidence of immunity, a physician’s statement, or parental statement of previous varicella disease, shall not be required to receive varicella vaccine. Because the regulations have not been finalized, it is late to send out notices for full compliance for September 1, 2003. Parents should be encouraged to have their children receive the appropriate varicella vaccine by the end of the 2003-2004 school year. During this transitional period these children should not be excluded from school attendance for non-compliance before September 1, 2004.