Changes to Pennsylvania School Immunization Requirements
Vaccinations Are Not Just for Kindergartners
Most parents understand the importance of providing an accurate and complete immunization record when their child starts kindergarten. But immunization requirements and recommendations continue through grade school, middle school and high school.
New Changes to Pennsylvania Public Schools Vaccination Requirements
School administrators and school nurses should be aware of recent changes to the law in Pennsylvania regarding required school immunizations and be sure to inform parents of the need for compliance with the new vaccination requirements.
The change in law pertaining to school-required vaccinations went into effect on August 1, 2017. Schools were informed of the change in March 2017. Parents should have received notifications from their child’s school district.
Schools are also required to report immunization data to the Department of Health electronically by December 31 of each year.
Up-To-Date Immunizations Required by the First Day of School — With A Shorter Waiver Period
Public school students must be up to date with their vaccinations on the first day back-to-school. If a child’s vaccinations are not complete, the child may be sent home.
Parents who obtain a provisional waiver for their child are now given only five extra days to have the child vaccinated. With the provisional waiver, the child is permitted to attend school until the required vaccination is obtained. Previously, a waiver provided an eight-month window to obtain the required vaccination.
Students must receive all the doses of a multiple-dose vaccines to be admitted to school. Exceptions are permitted for students who meet the five-day provisional waiver rule or who provide a doctor’s vaccination plan indicating specific dates for the required vaccines. As for single-dose vaccines, if a student has not been vaccinated by the first day of school, he or she may be sent home.
Added Vaccine Requirement for High School Seniors
Students who are entering 12th grade are now required to have an additional dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) for meningitis. Students are still required to receive a first dose of MCV before entering seventh grade. If a child was given a second dose at 16 years of age or older, that is deemed to be the required 12th-grade dose, according to the state Department of Health. The second dose of the meningitis vaccine has been recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices since 2015.
Vaccine Requirements for Public School Children in Pennsylvania
In the absence of a medical or religious exemption, students in Pennsylvania are required to have the following immunizations on the first day back to school: four doses of the tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, four doses of the polio vaccine, two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine, and two doses of the chicken pox vaccine (or documented evidence of immunity).
School nurses and administrators are tasked with making sure all students comply with vaccine requirements and have received the required vaccine at the appropriate time. School administrators are not permitted to admit students unless the students have received all the doses of a multiple-dose vaccine series (unless the five-day waiver is met or a doctor’s schedule is provided).
Avoiding Internal Conflicts at Work
Every employer has a responsibility to maintain a workplace free of bias, discrimination, and harassment. Failing to do so can result in reduced productivity and expensive claims that can cost a company valuable time and resources, as well as damage reputations. By being proactive, employers can prevent internal conflicts at work and avoid prolonged and costly litigation.
Workplace policies regarding everything from relationships to harassment and discrimination should be clearly laid out in an employee handbook. Employers should make an effort to provide education and training regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. Some people do not realize their behavior is inappropriate for the workplace or offensive to others, and training can help define the boundaries of what is acceptable at work.
Relationships at work, if permitted, require special attention to ensure that there is no favoritism or other negative impact on the work environment. There can be no disruption of the work that needs to be accomplished or the respect that should always be given to colleagues. Even the perception of favoritism due to a consensual relationship can be harmful. Should the relationship not be a lasting one, any retaliation or perceived retaliation must be avoided. Problems that do arise out of a workplace relationship should be handled according to the procedures outlined in the employee handbook with the proper documentation to ensure a successful resolution.
In general, retaliation claims are more problematic than any initial bias claims because of their success rate. When a complaint has been filed, it is crucial to set aside personal feelings, remain objective, and refrain from any action that could be interpreted as adverse or retaliatory. Any action that must be taken should be well documented with clear and valid business reasons.
This objective viewpoint is useful even before a situation develops into a complaint. In the workplace, it is always advisable to take a step back to evaluate internal communications and any promotions or evaluations. Approach the issue without consideration of personality conflicts or internal politics in order to reach objective conclusions. Taking the time to utilize this approach can prevent problems of perceived unfairness.
Finally, it is important to remember that in today’s connected world, things that happen outside the workplace can have a direct effect on the workplace itself. Work-related topics discussed on social media between co-workers can reveal proprietary information just as those co-workers’ own personal information becomes more vulnerable. When spending time with colleagues online or in person outside of work hours, conduct should be of a professional nature to avoid any conflicts that could surface at work.
Efforts to reduce internal litigation are not just a matter of financial cost. When issues of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation go unresolved in the workplace, it is not only the company’s external reputation that suffers, but also its internal standing with its own employees – something which no amount of money can repair.