School Nurses Raise Concerns Over New Federal Vaccination Policy


School nurses in Wisconsin are concerned that a federal change in children’s vaccination policy may delay them from attending class.

Because of federal funding changes, public health departments can no longer vaccinate those with private insurance. Parents are being urged to schedule appointments now with doctors to get the shots required by Wisconsin law.

Louise Wilson, the health supervisor in the Beaver Dam School District and president of Wisconsin Association of School Nurses, says children in kindergarten, sixth grade and 12th grade are most likely to need vaccines. “Parents of those children should particularly pay attention to what’s needed,” she says.

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Students have to be immunized within 30 days after school starts or be excluded from class. There are exceptions for religious and medical reasons, as well as “personal conviction.” The latter category accounts for four percent of students who aren’t vaccinated.

State health officials say that overall, 91 percent of students get all their shots, but some parts of the state are behind schedule. Ann Lewandowski, with the Southern Wisconsin Immunization Consortium, says that according to records from insurers, only 67 percent of preschool-age children in the consortium’s seven counties are getting all of needed shots. Lewandowski says they don’t why, so one insurer is surveying its members to find out.

“I’d also like to work with some local school districts, if they’re willing, to ask their parents why they are choosing not to vaccinate,” says Lewandowski.

Wisconsin is one of 20 states that give conviction waivers to parents who do not want their school children to get vaccinated.