July 20, 2005
A new law effective Sept. 1 requires that children attending child-care centers and enrolled in early childhood programs be vaccinated against invasive pneumococcal and hepatitis A diseases, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacteria that often leads to middle ear infections, pneumonia, blood stream infections, sinus infections and meningitis. The vaccine is required for all children age 2 months through 59 months attending child-care facilities and pre-kindergarten programs.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is spread from person to person, often by putting objects in the mouth that have been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. Children in child-care centers and pre-kindergarten programs who are 2 years old or older will need two doses of hepatitis A vaccine given six to 18 months apart.
To attend child-care facilities and pre-kindergarten programs, a child also must be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella (chicken pox) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) at the appropriate age. If children do not have at least the first dose of the required vaccines by Sept. 1, they may be excluded from child-care facilities and pre-kindergarten programs.
New this year for school children are expanded requirements for hepatitis B and varicella immunizations. Students in kindergarten through 11th grade must have received hepatitis B vaccine. Those in kindergarten through fifth and seventh through 11th grades must have received the varicella vaccine before the start of school.
“Parents should be sure their children are in compliance with all school-enrollment vaccination requirements prior to the start of school,” said Monica Gamez of the DSHS Immunization Branch. State rules require that school students be vaccinated against nine illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella.
In addition, hepatitis A vaccine is required for students in kindergarten through third grade who attend school in a county with a high incidence rate.
These counties are Bexar, Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Frio, Gonzales, Grayson, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, McMullen, Moore, Nueces, Pecos, Potter, Presidio, Randall, Real, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Terry, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata and Zavala.
Routine vaccination recommendations call for most of the vaccine doses required for school attendance to be given by age 2 with boosters between ages 4 and 6. Catch-up schedules are available for students who did not receive the vaccines when younger.
Military dependents, homeless students and certain students transferring from other Texas schools will be granted temporary enrollment regardless of vaccination status. Some students are exempt from vaccination requirements for medical reasons or for reasons of conscience.
Specific vaccination requirements for school attendance are available from schools, physicians' offices and local public health departments. The information also is available online at www.ImmunizeTexas.com or by calling DSHS toll free at 1-800-252-9152.
Vaccination requirements apply to students in all public and private primary and secondary schools, those in registered child-care facilities and students enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs in Texas.
(News media: for more information contact Monica Gamez, DSHS Immunization Branch, 512-458-7284; or Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)