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Helena Public Schools
New Law Changes Student Immunization Requirements
Notice of Immunizations Needed: 2015 School Law Update
The 2015 Montana Legislature revised school immunization requirements for school attendance through the passage of House Bill (HB) 158. The law, signed by the governor and effective October 1, 2015 requires students attending school be vaccinated against varicella disease (chickenpox) and receive a booster of pertussis vaccine at 7th grade.
Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will need to have two doses of varicella vaccine. If a child had chickenpox, in lieu of receiving the varicella vaccine a student or parent can use any of the following evidence of immunity to varicella:
1. Laboratory evidence of immunity or laboratory confirmation of disease
2. Diagnosis or verification of a history of varicella disease(chickenpox) or herpes zoster (shingles) by a health-care provider (MD, DO, NP, PA)
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) will be required for students prior to attending 7th grade. Students currently in grades 8th-12th who have not received their Tdap will require a single dose.
Since the duration of immunity as a result of pertussis disease is not clearly established, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice do not encourage the use of history of illness as an exemption for pertussis vaccination. Montana’s rules will be consistent with this recommendation.
You may have your child’s immunization history assessed and needed vaccines administered at your child’s healthcare provider or at the local county health department. Additional information and varicella history documentation forms have been provided to local healthcare offices.
The changes to the law were made to bring Montana’s immunization requirements more in line with the most current immunization recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). Of note, Montana was the only state that did not require the varicella series and one of five not requiring a pertussis booster at middle school for attendance.
Additionally, the new requirements are intended to reduce the incidence of diseases like chickenpox and whooping cough both in school settings and in the community. Montana’s rates for both of these diseases are typically higher than any other state in the region
Please submit immunization documentation at the start of the 2015-2016 school year to the School Nurse at your child’s school.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.