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Local schools could bar 470 non-immunized students Thursday

| Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

As many as 470 Alle-Kiski Valley students could be sent home Thursday if their immunizations aren't up to date.

Allegheny County Health Department requires all students in public, private and home schools to have proof of immunization against meningitis, chicken pox, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Students who have not been immunized will be sent home or kept in isolation if a parents is not at home.

• Plum and Fox Chapel Area school districts each have large numbers of students with incomplete immunization records.

• Riverview Junior-Senior High School nurse Eileen Ranalli said the district began the summer with "hundreds" of students' records incomplete. She predicted all but a half-dozen students in the public and private schools in the district will be able to attend class on Thursday.

"We've done a lot of hard work to get it down to this level," she said. "Letters home, phone calls; we have been coming after people make sure their kids can be in school.

"At the end of the last school year, almost a third of the district's kids were not in compliance."

• All of Allegheny Valley School District's students are immunized and their records submitted, according to spokeswoman Jan Zastawniak. District records were missing 120 students at beginning of the summer, and that was pared down to 75 beginning of the school year.

Allegheny County has offered free immunizations in East Liberty and two locations in Oakland.

• Deer Lakes School District cut three-quarters of the students from its initial list of those not immunized since the beginning of the summer. About 50 students remain from more than 200 that hadn't had their shots yet.

"The district has been aggressive informing parents, through letters, follow-up phone calls and posts on the Web site," said district spokeswoman Kathy Makuta.

"There's a health clinic in the district, but I am not sure whether the district will be working with the staff there to finish the immunizations after the deadline."

• Highlands School District started with more than 700 students who were not immunized, according to spokeswoman Misty Chybrzynski, and that is now down to 46.

"We should have it around 30 by Thursday," she said.

Highlands tackled a lot of the job by offering a free clinic during its safety fair in May, with a nurse on duty giving the immunizations.

Allegheny County is the only county in the Alle-Kiski Valley with a health department, but other counties operate under state health department standards that also require immunizations.

"We operate under a different mandate than the Allegheny County schools, but the state health department has pretty strong standards for students in counties under its authority," said Armstrong School District spokesman Jonathan Szish.

The district handbook says students should have all immunizations complete before the beginning of the school year, but if they have started doses of each of the required immunizations they are provisionally admitted for eight months.

Armstrong requires its students to be immunized against diphtheria and tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, chicken pox and hepatitis B.

Additional Information:

Incomplete records

Students at Allegheny County schools will be forced to take days off starting Thursday if their immunizations are not complete and documented.

As of Tuesday, districts had incomplete immunization records for the following numbers of students:

• Plum: 200

• Fox Chapel Area: 148

• Deer Lakes: 50

• Highlands: 46

• Riverview: 25

• Allegheny Valley: 0

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