DHS releases updated immunization requirements for child care centers, schools

child receiving vaccine
child receiving vaccine(Gray TV)
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 7:48 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Requirements for certain immunizations needed for children in child care centers and schools were updated Wednesday, Wisconsin’s top health agency announced.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services explained that the new requirements, which went into effect for child care centers Wednesday, will help keep the state closer to current recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The changes go into effect for school-aged children at the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Among the changes are updated requirements for meningitis and whooping cough vaccines, as well as chickenpox vaccination documentation.

“Each of these vaccines is already recommended for children, and today’s update improves that protection,” explained DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “Parents who choose to keep their children up to date on vaccinations are not only protecting their own child’s health but are making a choice that protects the people who live and work in their communities.”

The new requirements outline that a change for when the Tdap vaccine, which covers tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, is needed. It will now be required at the start of the seventh grade instead of the sixth grade, which DHS said better aligns with the recommended age of 11 years old for when children should receive the vaccine.

The updated requirements note that the meningitis vaccine for students heading into seventh grade and a booster shot for eligible students going into the twelfth grade.

Prior chickenpox infections must now be documented by a medical professional in order to allow an exception to the chickenpox vaccine requirement, according to the updated rules. DHS said schools will implement these changes for the next school year.

The health agency did note that recent vaccination rates in child care facilities and schools show a decline. Immunization rates for 2021-22 in schools showed that 88.7% of students met the minimum immunization requirements, which is a 3.2% decrease from the previous year. DHS leaders also noted during a press conference Wednesday that the pandemic has caused a slow down in vaccinations. The agency said that 3.3% of students were behind on vaccinations in 2021-22, which is a 0.4% increase from the previous year.

DHS added that there are no changes related to existing exemption options for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. The move also does not require flu shots or COVID-19 vaccines, but DHS continues to recommend them.

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