Change in Kentucky school immunization policy impacts all K-12 s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Change in Kentucky school immunization policy impacts all K-12 students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's a shot almost every Kentucky student in kindergarten through 12th grade needs in the next few weeks to go back to class next year, and many parents haven't heard. 

"Effective July 1 of next year, all of our students, K-12th grade, are going to need two Hepatitis A shots, and then our 16-year-olds will need a Meningitis booster," said Lesa Howell, the health coordinator for Bullitt County Schools. 

Howell said it's a statewide change in immunization policy, and it matters right now as Hepatitis A requires six months between the initial vaccine and the follow-up booster. 

The school district posted a message on Facebook this week to let parents know that their kids will need to get that first shot before January:

The new shot requirements may send students and parents on a mad dash to the doctor's office. 

"It's the biggest change I've seen since I've been here and that goes back to 2005," Howell said.  

Shelly Westwood, a parent of two students enrolled in the district, said the announcement took her by surprise, despite the fact that she's also a registered nurse who teaches health science.

"Hepatitis A comes from food or water -- like, infected food or water," she said. "Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that cover you brain and spinal cord."

She said the new requirements make sense.

"I feel like if there's something out there to prevent it ... why put them through the illness if there's something to make them not suffer through that?" Westwood asked.

Increased immunizations follow a Hepatitis A outbreak sweeping the country. About 30 patients have been reported in Kentucky, a 50 percent increase from last year. Most of the cases are in Louisville. 

Representatives of Bullitt County Public Schools said that means they're going to have to take the immunization requirements seriously, even if it means turning away students who have not had the shots.

"We're going to require it for enrollment, so they need to have at least that first shot," Howell said.

Some pediatricians started giving the Hepatitis A vaccine about four years ago. If your child already has one, don't get another shot -- just update their records at school. 

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