Vaccines hold up students

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Several hundred children in Juneau got a late start on classes the first day of school Wednesday because they didn't have all their vaccinations or proof they had the shots.

School officials attributed the unusual number of affected children to a new state requirement that students be immunized for hepatitis A and B, diseases that can cause liver damage.

Some students didn't have all their shots, principals said. In other cases, parents hadn't brought documentation to school, or they relied on clinics to fax records, which hadn't always reached the schools.

"There was a long line yesterday" as students waited for faxes or their parents' permission to get shots at school, said Les Morse, principal at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School.

"It was traumatic for some kids because for some of them it was the first year" in middle school, he said.

Dzantik'i Heeni notified parents last school year about the new requirements. The school called parents in the summer, and it gave 250 shots at clinics last week.

But the school still didn't have complete immunization records for about 130 out of 730 enrolled students by Tuesday night, Morse said.

Tom Milliron, principal at Floyd Dryden Middle School, said about 140 of its 615 students didn't have shots or verification the first day of school.

The Dzantik'i Heeni nurse gave about 50 shots Wednesday morning, and another 60 students eventually received their documentation. That left 23 students this morning who either didn't have shots or verification.

Colleen McNulty, public health nurse at Juneau Public Health Center, said the clinic had given 720 children shots for hepatitis A since Aug. 1, and 527 children shots for hepatitis B in that period. It still was receiving kids Wednesday.

"We've seen a fair number of kids here that have been excluded from school," McNulty said.

The clinic also was busy Wednesday faxing or re-faxing records to schools, she said. Some parents might not have realized they had to ask the clinic to send faxes to schools.

Eric Fry can be reached at

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