Hundreds still missing vaccines

Posted: Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Juneau School District expected to collect immunization paperwork on the first day from hundreds of students who had not provided it to the schools as of Friday.

The state implemented new regulations on July 1 that for the first time require two immunizations for chickenpox.

Principal Tom Milliron said as of Friday nearly half - 82 of 172 students - of the sixth-graders at Floyd Dryden Middle School did not have complete immunization paperwork.

A table was set up in the middle school gym Monday morning to collect paperwork that kids brought with them for the first day.

After sifting through it, school nurse Marsha Arnoldt said 32 percent - 55 students - still didn't have proper forms.

District-wide, five elementary school and six middle school students had to be sent home because they didn't have their shots, said district spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett. A few were able to get their shots and come right back, she added.

"It sounds like the medical community's been really good about getting them in there and right back to school," Bartlett said.

Some students who were previously flagged did not show up for the first day at all.

"Our assumption was they were getting immunizations," Bartlett said.

More students may be turned away today as school nurses continue going through the paperwork.

Parents can opt out of immunization requirements for religious or medical reasons, but must still fill out forms.

The new state requirements caught some parents unaware. Local health providers said some parents might not have realized they needed proof of immunizations, or that kids need two chickenpox immunizations, not just one.

The requirements apply to children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Procrastination by parents also led to a rush for vaccines at the end of last week, health providers said.

Anchorage schools sent nearly 700 students home on the first day for not having proper proof of immunizations.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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