Reporting Angela Davis
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Beginning next year, children may be getting a few extra vaccination shots when at the doctor.
The health department wants to change the school immunization rules beginning in September 2014 to reflect the Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
That means Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines would be added to the required shots for children enrolled in child care centers or school-based early childhood learning programs.
The current seventh grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccine would be replaced by one that also includes pertussis or whooping cough.
A meningococcal vaccination would also be required in seventh grade.
“Minnesota recorded 4,485 cases of pertussis in 2012,” said, Kristen Ehresmann, Minnesota Health Department Director of Infectious Disease. “That is the highest number of cases since 1938.”
Karen Ernst is a mother from St. Paul and supports the proposal.
“The rule changes that the department is proposing is just good common sense,” Ernst said. “They are things that most of us are already doing.”
Elizabeth Clapero of Shakopee is also on board.
“Everybody is going to be worried about everything,” she said. “We are parents — that’s what we do. But you have to pay attention to the science, push through those emotions and face the facts.”
But the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota turned out to share its concerns.
“One of the things I hear from parents of children who were injured by vaccines is that they submitted their reports to VARS, which is Vaccine Adverse Reports System, and they never heard back,” Jerri Johnson said. “No one called them to say ‘Tell us more, send us your medical records.’ They feel like no one is really checking up on them.”
Many of those opposed to adding more vaccinations, and said they’d like to see more studies on the effects.
“If the perception is that we need to have more vaccines because the vaccines are ineffective and you need booster shots, perhaps then we need to study the role of the vaccines and what they are actually doing as opposed to just adding more vaccines in the schedule,” Kate Birch said.
Children can still be opted out of vaccinations.
Parents have the right to decline any or all vaccines and the health department is not looking to change that.
The public has an additional 20 days to submit comments in writing. After that a judge will make a recommendation to the state commissioner of health, who will then have the final say.