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State Requires More Vaccinations, Eases Religious Exemption Rules

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, Dr. Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro against hepatitis A after administering a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) at his practice in Northridge, Calif.

Two new vaccine requirements went into effect for school-age children and teens in June, but Kentucky is making it easier to obtain religious exemptions.

As of June 21, children attending public or private schools, child care centers, daycares, and preschools must receive the Hepatitis A vaccination.

"It's a two-dose series, so any child that's going into daycares or into the school system will be required to have that vaccine," says Jill Keys, a clinical services officer at the Fayette County Health Department. "And then, it also added a booster dose of Meningitis vaccine for students 16 years of age and older."

That includes home-schooled children who participate in extracurricular activities at public or private schools. Many will have already undergone the recommended immunizations, Keys cautions, so parents should first check with their doctors.

"If they've not received the Hepatitis A, then go ahead and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider," she advises, noting the two doses are administered six to twelve months apart. Under state rules, the treatment must be complete by the beginning of the 2018 school year.

Meanwhile, parents seeking religious exemptions will no longer have to obtain a signature from a medical provider. Instead, a notarized signed statement from the parent be sufficient.

"It takes the medical professional out of it, so yes, the parent would just need to go to the Department of Public Health website, click on the link, print that certificate, and it allows them to mark what their religiously exempt to... and then just take it to a notary," she explains.

At the same time, Kentucky Department of Public Health Commissioner Hiram Polk says the state is starting to see “a rise in cases of measles, mumps, chicken pox, and other diseases that had been previously eliminated within our communities.”

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.