In recent weeks, Stuyvesant students have been stopped by the scanners because they lack proper vaccinations. A new update in the state health law, Public Health Law 2164, has adjusted immunization requirements for public school students. Most notably, all students entering 12th grade are now mandated by New York State to receive booster vaccinations against four strains of meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal disease leads to blood infections that can cause inflammation in the lining of the brain and spinal cord, a life-threatening condition called meningitis.
The law took effect on September 1, 2016. The administration originally contacted parents and guardians in June of 2016 about the new policy, and contacted seniors on October 18, 2016 notifying them to submit proof of vaccination by November 1. Still, many students have not received the vaccine and continue to be stopped at the scanners and warned that they will be barred from entering school until they are immunized. (No student has yet reported that they have actually been barred from entrance.)
Aside from the meningitis vaccine, the law also includes updates in dosage standards for the polio, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), Haemophilus influenzae Type B, pertussis, tetanus, and Hepatitis B vaccines. Unlike the meningitis vaccine, these vaccines were previously required by the state, and the updates have not resulted in the same among the student body.
Incoming Stuyvesant students will be required to have proof of these immunizations before entering the school building, usually done through a series of letters that must be mailed to the nurse before the school year begins. This update leaves Stuyvesant in a special situation where some students start the school year without all their vaccinations. As of now, students who have not yet had these vaccinations will either be stopped at scanners or contacted by the administration as a reminder to get the necessary vaccinations.
The update in the state law was put into effect based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, health experts who develop vaccination policies in the U.S.
Students who are unable to receive the vaccine due to personal choices will be examined on a case-by-case basis. While the choice will ultimately be up to the discretion of the member of the administration conducting the investigation, they will be required to follow the typical New York State guidelines provided for such instances. If the conclusion of the investigation deems the choice invalid, the student will be required to get the missing vaccine.
Students who wish to hand in proof of immunization and have not already done so may give their immunization records to the school nurse.