For the first time since 2001, the Hawaii Department of Health is revising its vaccination schedule for Hawaii children.
The new requirements bring Hawaii in compliance with national guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Starting next school year, on July 1, 2020, children entering childcare or preschool will be required to have received the Hepatitis A and Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV). Those who do not attend preschool will also be required to have documentation of the Hep A vaccine by the time they enter kindergarten.
Those transitioning from the sixth grade to seventh grade will also have to get a new set of shots. Beginning 2020, all Hawaii students must receive the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV) and Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) vaccines by the time they enter seventh grade.
Those who are entering a Hawaii school for the first time will also be expected to have received the same set of immunizations.
Most doctors and healthcare clinics have already been following the dosage recommendations provided by the national Centers for Disease Control, Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said.
“I think physicians have kept up with these recommendations better than the health department, but we’re now up to speed with what is recommended across the country,” he said. “It’s certainly time we update ours to reflect best practices.”
The health department will launch an educational campaign later this year to alert parents about the changes.
“There are pockets of communities where vaccination rates are lower than others for various reasons, and we’re certainly targeting those lower vaccination rates and trying to get those up,” Anderson said. “There’s been a lot of misinformation put out that has raised undue concerns.”
Certain exemptions from vaccinations continue to be allowed. If documentation is provided, parents may claim a religious exemption. Children may also be exempted by their doctors for medical reasons.
“Here in Hawaii, there’s no exemption for philosophical or personal beliefs,” Anderson said. “For states that have low vaccination rates, those exemptions typically are allowed. I’m very comfortable we’re allowing exemptions for the right reasons and we’re not opening the door for other exemptions that might not be appropriate.”