Schlossberg: Eliminating immunization grace period positive step toward better protecting children and immune-compromised individuals

ALLENTOWN, Nov. 5 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, is applauding Gov. Tom Wolf and the departments of Health and Education for strengthening Pennsylvania’s vaccination requirements for students entering school.

Prior to today's announcement, Pennsylvania allowed for an eight-month grace period for students to complete their required immunizations against diseases that spread easily in schools. This resulted in Pennsylvania having one of the worst kindergarten vaccination rates in the country.

"Measles, which was once thought to be distant memory, returned to Pennsylvania earlier this year, exposing infants and children with compromised immune systems to illnesses that can lead to hearing loss, brain damage and, in worst cases, death," Schlossberg said.

Schlossberg was the primary co-sponsor, along with state Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester), of legislation that would have removed the philosophical exemption which allows parents to avoid vaccinating their children. The bill also would have eliminated the eight-month grace period.  

"I have been pushing for improved vaccination efforts for the health and safety of our children. The grace period is unneeded and puts our students and communities at risk. Today's announcement by Secretaries Karen Murphy and Pedro Rivera is a welcome one. This new protection is a simple change that will ensure each student is ready to start school with the best protections. It will also help improve Pennsylvania public health and minimize the potential for public health crises."

Pennsylvania had been the only state in the country that offered such a lengthy grace period.

"It is the state's responsibility is to ensure the safety and health of all its children," Schlossberg said. "I am glad to see the Wolf administration takes that seriously."