Minnesota children attending school or child care would need to show proof they are vaccinated against chickenpox, and children under two in child care would need to show proof ... Minnesota children attending school or child care would need to show proof they are vaccinated against chickenpox, and children under two in child care would need to show proof they are immunized against pneumococcol disease, under changes to immunization requirements being proposed by the Minnesota Department of Health. Parents who choose not to have their child immunized need to show proof they have chosen to decline the new immunizations.
The department published a notice of hearing to adopt the rules in the Dec. 30 State Register. The department will hold a hearing before an administrative law judge at 9 a.m. on Friday, February 28, in the Mississippi Room, at the Snelling Office Park building, 1645 Energy Park Drive, St. Paul. Following the hearing, the judge will set a period for taking written comments, ranging from about two weeks to a month. After reviewing all comments, the judge will then recommend whether the department should adopt the rules. If approved, the changes would not take effect until the 2004-2005 school year. The transition team of Governor-elect Tim Pawlenty has been briefed and is reviewing the rules, as the rules, if adopted, would be implemented during the Pawlenty Administration.
Before beginning this formal process, MDH held two public meetings in July and September and a statewide videoconference in August to discuss the proposed changes with Minnesota residents. Based on these meetings, comments received, and a review of current scientific research, MDH developed the new immunization requirements.
Under a process set up by the Minnesota Legislature in 2001, the Commissioner of Health may change the immunization requirements by adopting new state rules rather than amending the state school immunization law. "This process was designed to allow enough flexibility to ensure that school immunization requirements be kept up to date with current scientific research, medical practice standards, and vaccine developments, while ensuring that the public has opportunity to provide input," said Kristen Ehresmann, who heads the Immunization, Tuberculosis and International Health Section at MDH. "In this way, we can all do a better job of protecting our children against vaccine-preventable diseases."
Besides making some adjustments to the current immunization schedule, the proposed changes also include a couple of new vaccinations. Under the proposed rules, proof of chickenpox vaccinations would be required for children in child care, kindergarten and seventh grade. Children under two years old in child care also would need to show proof they are immunized against pneumococcal disease.
Schools and child care facilities already check for vaccination coverage. These two new vaccines would be added to the existing list.