“WhaIssac explained “The tetanus and
diphtheria and pertussis booster. Then they also have to have the Menactra,
which is a vaccine for the bacterial viral meningitis. Twelfth graders, if they
have not had the TDAP after the age of 11, have to have that and they also have
to have the booster for the meningococcal and it has to have been given after
the age of 16.
Now that we’re playing catch up on that, they will have just had
to have one of the meningococcal after the age of 16.
vaccines were added on top of the list of five immunizations already required
for students entering kindergarten each year, including shots for polio,
hepatitis B, measles, and the chicken pox.
The DHHR began requiring the new
vaccines in 2010, all of which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but this year, the
department became more strict about implementing the mandate, threatening
parents with the expulsion of their student for not complying.
given a two-week grace period at the beginning of the year to provide
documentation that their child had received the immunizations or was scheduled
to receive them, but Isaac says it took many counties in the state up to 6
weeks to make sure all students had up-to-date shot records.
Isaac: I never
want to see a child taken out of school or even to miss a day of school which
is why we worked so hard making sure we could get everybody covered because
that’s detrimental. Missing one day of school is hard on a student, especially
a secondary student, but, you have to understand, this is a public health
These are very serious diseases. Pertussis is on the rise and if
adolescents get pertussis and happen to pass it to an infant, that infant could
die. So you have to have what’s called herd immunity when you’re dealing with
You have to have a high percentage of the students immunized so
that those students who can’t be immunized for some reason, because of a health
condition or an allergic condition are protected and so other people are
protected, such as infants.
Marra: But not
everyone agrees with the DHHR’s new
mandate. Earlier this year, “We the Parents,” a statewide voluntary group who
advocates for parental rights, filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court.
They claimed the department was overstepping its boundaries by requiring students
to receive the new vaccines and boosters.
The court refused to hear the case in
a 4-1 decision and the group re-filed their claim in circuit court. Patrick
Lane, their attorney and Kanawha County Republican delegate, says his client feels the DHHR does not have the authority to make
such a determination and implement the action without the approval of state
West Virginia, the statute requires that any agency that promulgates rules or
issues rules, they have to go through the legislative rule making process as
laid out in the Administrative Procedures Act, and so our initial claim was
that these vaccination requirements, these new vaccination requirements beyond
what the actual West Virginia State Code requires could not be enforced unless
and until the legislature passed them, acted upon them through the rule making
process," said Lane.
of written deliberation, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman dismissed the
lawsuit Wednesday, noting the vaccines are also recommended by the Advisory
Committee on Immunization Practices, a 15-member group of experts selected by
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary.
Lane says, even
with the courts ruling, future students who may face expulsion due to refusing
the immunizations still have a right to an education and the state must bring
that fact into consideration.
Virginia, under our state constitution, children have a fundamental right to an
education, and it’s a very high bar for anyone to infringe upon or take away
that fundamental right to an education and I’ll just give you one example, that
child who brings a gun to school is expelled from school. They’re not allowed
to attend. That child still has a fundamental right to an education in West
Virginia and so that child that brings a gun to school is still being taught by
the local county board of education.
"They’re either on home-bound or an
alternative education program. It seems surprising to me that the agency,
number one, and to some degree the court, would decide that that child who
brings a gun to school has a higher level, a higher right to education than a
child who doesn’t get a hepatitis shot."
Of the 5,000 7th and 12th
graders in Kanawha County affected by the mandate, only 2 cases resulted in
expulsion. Isaac says both of those cases
involved 18-year-old students who chose to leave school rather than get the
vaccinations. Lane says his clients are considering appealing the judge’s decision in circuit court in the coming