New immunization requirements to take effect

Sophia Comas, Online Editor-in-Chief

Manhattan High students are now under a deadline by USD 383 to comply with new immunization requirements that are being implemented across the district.

The deadline, which is Dec. 2, requires all students to become current on required vaccinations as well as implementing a new requirement by the Health Department for the meningococcal meningitis immunization for all students who are 16 years of age or older. 

This comes after a proposed immunization exclusion passed by the Board of Education on Oct. 16, which dictates that all non-compliant students may be “excluded” from school and school-related events until they can show proof of compliance.

“The goal is to get the students in compliance so that they can stay in school,” Robyn Mall, school nurse, said. “We work very closely with the Health Department to follow the guidelines they recommend.”

According to Mall, the requirement was specifically released for students entering seventh and 11th grade but the nature of the vaccination recommends that booster shots be administered to 17 and 18 year olds if they are catching up on their vaccines. 

The requirement was released in the summer, so both Mall and school administrators have been working since then to ensure that all students and parents are aware of the necessary steps they need to take to make sure all kids stay in school.

“When you add something that is new, it’s hard to get 100% of all students updated on that,” Michael Dorst, principal, said. “I think our families are working on that.”

Although the district has been putting in effort to make sure everyone becomes compliant before the deadline, some students still didn’t know that they needed to update their vaccination records. 

One such student was senior Hannah Hoyle, who had suffered from spinal meningitis as a toddler. Because of her diagnosis, her immune system couldn’t support the vaccination conjugate and she had to be treated with antibiotics.  

Although currently non-compliant, Hoyle isn’t worried about being excluded from school.

“I really don’t get it,” Hoyle said. “I feel like I’ll get [the vaccine] since I don’t have it already.”

According to Mall, Hoyle is in a group of 265 students at MHS who aren’t compliant with the meningitis vaccine, which is part of a larger group of 318 students who are non-compliant with other immunizations.

“I’ve been working very hard to pass out papers notifying parents that their 11th grader has not had the proper immunization,” Mall said. “I will help them however I can.”

While non-compliant students may be unable to enter the school building, administrators want parents to know that education is still their top priority. Students who are excluded can work with their teachers to continue school work at home, either through Canvas or direct communication by email or phone. 

“There is a certain number of kids who can and should be immunized,” Dorst said, “but exclusion does not mean they will be unable to participate in the education process, which is the main goal for MHS.”