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New immunization requirements for young children start Sept. 1

Changes to immunization requirements for children in Minnesota child care, early childhood programs and schools will better protect children and communities from a number of potentially serious diseases, say state health officials.

The new rules adopted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will apply to children enrolling in programs beginning Sept. 1, 2014, and bring Minnesota’s immunizations law in line with current national recommendations and practices.

Among the biggest changes, the new rules for children in child care and grades preK-12 now call for:

  • Hepatitis A and B vaccination for children enrolling in child care or early childhood programs.
  • Replacement of the current seventh-grade tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccination with one that also includes pertussis (Tdap).
  • Meningococcal vaccination for secondary students, beginning in seventh grade.

The new rules do not change the medical exemption or the option for parents to decline any or all vaccines for conscientious reasons.

Some additional changes to the school and child care immunization rules make modifications in the timing of certain doses of required vaccines to match current medically acceptable standards and put early childhood programs that meet regularly for six weeks or more under the immunization rule. More details on the changes are on the MDH immunizations website.

A public hearing on the proposed rules was held June 27 by an administrative law judge. On August 28, the judge recommended adoption of the rules with one minor change. The amended rules were approved by Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger in September. They were officially adopted following publication in the State Register today.

“By bringing Minnesota’s immunization requirements up to date with current, evidence-based national standards, we’re taking an important step toward making sure all children in Minnesota have the opportunity to be protected from these vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause serious illness or even death,” Ehlinger said.

From now until Sept. 1, 2014, immunization program staff at MDH will be working with other state agencies, local public health departments, school personnel, child care providers, health care providers and professional organizations to make sure Minnesota parents are aware of the new requirements and have ample opportunities to make sure their children are current on their immunizations.

“Healthy kids, equals healthy minds,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “Vaccinations play a key role in helping our children stay well, resulting in better attention and participation in class as well as fewer days out of school due to illness.”

The changes are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and other medical and public health groups. They are supported by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Minnesota Child Care Association, Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association, the March of Dimes, and local public health agencies.

“Vaccinations promote children’s good health and well-being,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “This rule change will only help in our efforts to ensure safe environments for children in child care.”