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08/02/2019

Health Secretary: Back-to-School Preparation Should Include Immunizations Against Serious Diseases

Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, along with officials from Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) joined Representative Mike Sturla and advocates from the Pa. Polio Survivor’s Network, Rotary International and the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition to emphasize the importance of making sure children’s immunizations are up-to-date as part of back-to-school preparations. Vaccines protect against serious conditions that can be life-threatening, such as measles, mumps and hepatitis.

“As students prepare to go back to school, it is essential that they are up-to-date on all recommended immunizations,” Dr. Levine said. “Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect yourself from a number of serious, life-threatening diseases. Getting your vaccinations can help protect those around you, such as those with compromised immune systems who cannot get vaccinated.”

Vaccines are needed to protect infants, children and teens from serious childhood diseases. In 2017, state school requirements reduced the provisional period in which students could attend school without their vaccinations from eight months to five days. Staying up to date with immunizations provides the best protection against disease.

Even if you or your child have not previously been vaccinated, you can get vaccinated now. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very dangerous, may require hospitalization, and can even result in death. A discussion with your doctor or your child’s doctor can help determine which vaccines are needed.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a very important vaccine for all boys and girls ages 11-12. This vaccine is a safe and effective way to help prevent cancer, as each year more than 30,000 women and men are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV.

“Under the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance plans are required to cover vaccinations listed by the federal Centers For Disease Control, which includes the routine back-to-school vaccines, as a preventive service without charging a copayment or coinsurance,” Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “It is important to make sure that the doctor or provider who administers the immunization is within your health insurance plan’s network, or you could be responsible for the cost.”

The department offers immunization year-round across the state. Any child or adult who does not have insurance coverage or if insurance does not cover the necessary vaccinations and meets the requirements can get their vaccines at one of the state health centers or local health departments.

Anyone looking to visit a local immunization clinic to receive vaccinations should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to schedule an appointment. Pennsylvanians should have their vaccination records available when they call to make an appointment. A parent or legal guardian must accompany a child receiving vaccinations.

“Staying current with your immunizations is an important step to protect yourself and your loved ones against serious diseases,” Dr. Levine said. “Immunizations provide protection that is needed by both children and adults to help them stay as healthy as possible.”

Additional information on immunizations can be found on the Department of Health’s website at health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783 or RA-DHPressOffice@pa.gov -

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