LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Time is running out for Kentucky students to get the required Hepatitis A vaccine before the start of next school year. More than 101,000 JCPS students will need to have gotten the series of two vaccination shots or prove they have gotten the shot in the past.
A Kentucky state mandate issued in December requires Kentucky students to get two-shot series before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. The shots need to have a six-month window in between.
A recent increase in Hep A cases, especially in schools and colleges, is what prompted the precaution.
Some parents may not need to have their children vaccinated if it’s been done in the past but may still need the second one.
“Many, fortunately, have been getting [vaccinations] all along," said Dr. Becky Carothers, a pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates. "It was not required for schools. It was recommended. Before making an appointment and coming in, just contacting the office and maybe getting an updated shot record might be all that you need.”
JCPS Health Coordinator Eva Stone said although the vaccines are required, the district is still deciding how to enforce the policy, adding they are not going to deny students from starting the year if they have no record of the shots.
“We haven’t decided, as a district, how we are going to handle this, but I would tell parents to yes, don’t not make an appointment at all because you are concerned about the start of school,” Stone said.
The disease is spread mostly by eating incorrectly prepared food or sharing food, not an airborne illness like the flu. The flu is, however, a reason many parents may have been staying away from doctor’s offices and haven’t gotten the Hep A vaccine.
“I think people are a little bit wary about being around a place where sick children may be, and with the weather, they are just not able to get in and get the vaccine they needed,” Carothers said.
Heath officials say the best thing to keep wash hands often. A student cannot get the vaccine while they are suffering from the disease. The symptoms are similar to the flu and often will cure itself.
JCPS said it plans to meet with the Kentucky Health Department next week to discuss the next step of the Hep A requirements.
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