State considers new school immunization rules

State considers new school immunization rules
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department wants to expand its immunization program for school-age students.

Currently, the Health Department requires all schoolchildren to be immunized by six types of vaccines.

Under the proposed new rules, it wants to add three more types of vaccinations.

But the plan is getting some push back from a minority of parents, who worry that adverse reactions to the vaccines could cause physical and learning disabilities. Health professionals stress that the vaccines are safe — and that immunizations help protect against preventable disease.

Parent Aubrey Aea, however, isn’t convinced.

She was one of dozens of parents who opposed the new rules at hearing at the state Health Department on Thursday.

“It is absolutely wrong to mandate medical procedures that are known to cause harm and carry risk,” she said.

Other parents worry about adverse reactions to the vaccines. Such adverse reactions are extremely rare, and experts stress that the risks of not getting vaccinated are much higher for most children than the low risk associated with getting immunized.

Public school students are required to be immunized with vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella, Hepatitis B, chicken pox and HIB.

The new rules call for vaccinations for Hepatitis A and HPV for seventh graders.

“Hawaii has seen an outbreak of Hepatitis A and mumps recently. So I just support this from that standpoint,” said Dr. Marsha Marumoto, a pediatrician.

Added Judy Strait-Jones of the Hawaii Immunization Coalition: “Vaccine-preventable diseases are having a costly impact ... and sick children of course cause parent to lose time from work."

The Health Department will consider the public’s input before finalizing the immunization rules, which also require the approval of the governor’s office.

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