New for the 2017-2018 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Health shortened the grace period that allowed children to attend school without all required immunizations from eight months to five days. Students not exempt due to medical, religious reasons or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar are unable to attend classes.
Lancaster General Health answered the call with several campaigns that increased awareness of the new law and improved access to immunizations for children in Lancaster.
Lancaster General Health Physicians (LGHP) launched an outreach initiative to notify patients of new regulations, informed them of missing well-child visits and ultimately assisted in securing appointments so their child did not face exclusion from school.
Throughout the summer and into the school year, LG Health expanded the ChildPROTECT program that provides free vaccines for children. The program established clinics throughout Lancaster County that provided immunizations for those who are uninsured or on medical assistance.
“The ChildPROTECT program offered immunizations at nearly a dozen different clinics across the county,” said Mary LeVasseur, Community Health and Wellness Manager. “Once the dates were established, our team worked diligently to spread the word through our Lancaster General Health Physician practices, school nurses and school district officials – all with the purpose to increase awareness and access.”
The efforts paid off. Between June and September 2017, LG Health provided nearly 700 children with immunizations in time for the school year.
But LeVasseur added that our work does not end there. “LG Health continues to provide immunization clinics across the county and encourage families to establish a medical home.”