New Orleans—There are new vaccination requirements for school children across the state. Beginning this school year, the state has begun requiring all students starting at age four, to receive the chicken pox vaccine. 11 year olds and older must receive the meningitis vaccine. Dr. Mia Harris says, "We want the kids to be protected before they actually expose the other kids and the best time for them to get it is before they're actually being exposed to other kids and it protects that child along with a group of kids in the school."
But for some parents, new immunizations can mean shelling out more money which is hard in these tough economic times. Andrea Jones says, "If you're not on medicaid, if you're not on government assistance, it's hard."
In addition to the new immunizations, schools this year are now creating new protocols in case a student comes down with H1N1, also known as the swine flu. Many local school districts say they may not shut down the school even if a student has the swine flu. Dr. Harris says the decision should be made on a case by case basis. "We have to outweigh the consequences, we have to look at the flu itself and also the consequences of closing schools."
Many school districts are giving parents a short grace period to get the chicken pox and meningitis vaccinations done. But after that time, children who aren't vaccinated won't be allowed to attend school.
For families that don't have insurance or simply can't afford the vaccines, there is a program called Vaccines for Children. The program provides the vaccines for free to needy families. Most doctors offices and clinics offer the program.