NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson talks with the Associated Press about how recent measles outbreaks may impact state policies around vaccinations.
From Christine Armario’s story:
“While much of the attention in the ongoing measles outbreak has focused on student vaccination requirements and exemptions, less attention has been paid to another group in the nation’s classrooms: Teachers and staff members, who, by and large, are not required to be vaccinated.
In most states, there is no law dictating which vaccines teachers and school staff workers are required to get. Some states provide a list of recommended vaccines, but there is no requirement or follow-up for teachers to receive them.
So when a measles case surfaced at a California high school, it was easy for officials to review student records, but there were no immunization records on file for employees.
That meant all 24 teachers and staff exposed to the employee with measles had to prove their immunity — records that, for most, were decades old.
The issue has surfaced from time to time in state legislatures and is likely to be raised again in response to the latest outbreak, which originated at Disneyland in December and has spread to a half dozen states and Mexico. Most of those who fell ill were not vaccinated. As of Friday, public health officials said 114 people had contracted measles.
“I was definitely shocked,” Rep. Joanna Cole, a Democrat in the Vermont Legislature, said when she learned in 2012 that there were no teacher vaccination requirements in her state. There are still no requirements today. “I guess we all just assumed that they would have them.”
Cole and other legislators and parents across the U.S. believe the blanket presumption that teachers are up to date on their vaccines should be re-examined. They note that most of those sickened in the current outbreak are adults, and that schools are one of the top places for the spread of communicable disease.
“I will be surprised if we don’t see some changes in the next year to year and a half,” said Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of School Boards of Education. …”