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School Physical Exams and Immunizations: Prior to the date of entering . . .

September 7, 2011

There is a quote that says “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.” That is where we are today in Health Services regarding school health requirements. Doing what we’ve always done (in spite of attempts to change) and moving forward very slowly. We must to continue to promote in our community an awareness that leads to our compliance with the laws governing school health.

Those rules and regulations state that the physical exams required for certain grade levels in schools shall be done ‘prior to the date of entering school’. Yes, that is before the student starts schools the required physical exam must be completed and the school has the results in hand.

The laws (see Section 665.210 of the Illinois Administrative Rules) also say that “At or about the same time that he/she receives a health examination, every child shall present proof to the local school authority of having received such immunizations against preventable communicable diseases as required by this Part and Section 695.10 of the Immunization Code …”. Immunizations, too, are given ‘prior to enrolling’.

The October 15 date that everyone quotes is a Last Resort. It means that everything was turned in on Day One, per the law, and any updated immunizations and missing parts of the physical exam are completed by October 15.

Compliance with the School Code, Section 665.270 of the same act states that “A child shall be considered in compliance with the health examination and immunization requirement in Section 27-8.1 of the School Code if all applicable immunizations that a child can medically receive are given prior to entering school and a signed statement from a health care provider is presented indicating when the remaining medically indicated immunization will be administered. Local school authorities shall monitor immunization schedules to assure their completion. If a child is delinquent for a scheduled appointment for immunization, he/she is no longer considered to be in compliance.”

Not in compliance means exclusion. We do not want to exclude students from school. But we will be doing that on October 15. That exclusion date, too, is the law but, again, meant as a Last Resort, not as the first time to turn in the paperwork. Remember, ‘prior to entering’ is the wording of the laws governing schools.

If everyone would please push this message among our medical community and among our staff that the school health physical exams and current immunization records or updates were due ‘yesterday’, that October 15 is a misnomer, and that appointments must be made and kept NOW, it would allow all in Health Services to move forward in their work goals. If we do this, we won’t be doing what we’ve always done and we won’t get what we’ve always gotten. We will have students in school, bus routes continuing smoothly, parents pleased with the support, and students healthy and learning on an uninterrupted journey. Thank you!