Pennsylvania to suspend childhood vaccine requirement

Mackenzie Bean - Print  | 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to suspend its childhood immunization requirement this fall, spurring concerns from some pediatricians, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Pennsylvania law requires school-age children to be vaccinated against a set list of childhood diseases, such as mumps and whooping cough, unless they have a medical exemption. In late July, the state shared plans to suspend these requirements for a two-month period at the start of the school year since the pandemic has complicated some parents' efforts to get their kids vaccinated.

"It's going to take time to catch everyone up, and we don't want to hold back children because they’re not up to date within five days [after starting school]," Amber Tirmal, manager of the Philadelphia Department of Health's immunization program told the Inquirer

Some pediatricians have expressed concerns about the suspension, arguing it could cause further vaccination delays or a resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases. Physicians also said that they have appointments available to safely vaccinate children now, before the school year starts. 

"I was surprised to see [the suspension]. We have immunizations to prevent certain infectious diseases, but I fear they will come back again," Trude Haecker, MD, a pediatrician and president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the publication. "We're able to ramp up and see patients again. We have a need to catch children up, especially at a time when practices are opening up and people are starting to trust their pediatricians again."

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