Although most school vaccination requirements target children entering kindergarten, many states have also implemented requirements for children entering middle school. According to a study in the June 2012 Pediatrics, states that require vaccines for students to attend middle school – as opposed to states that simply require parents be informed about recommended vaccines – had significantly higher vaccination rates for recently recommended adolescent vaccines.
For the study, “Middle School Vaccination Requirements and Adolescent Vaccination Coverage,” published online May 7, researchers at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed school entry requirements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 2008-2009 school year and compared them to adolescent vaccination rates for three vaccines: tetanus/diphtheria-containing (Td) or tetanus/diphtheria/acelular pertussis (TdaP); meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY); and human papillomavirus (HPV). Compared to states with no requirements, vaccination requirements were associated with significantly higher coverage for MenACWY (71 percent versus 53 percent) and Td/TdaP (80 percent versus 70 percent) vaccines. No association was found between education-only requirements and coverage levels for MenACWY and HPV vaccines. Study authors conclude middle school vaccination requirements are associated with higher coverage levels for Td/TdaP and MenACWY vaccines, whereas education-only requirements do not appear to increase coverage levels for MenACWY or HPV vaccines.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.