New vaccination requirements create trouble

In the past year, the state of Illinois began a new requirement for seniors to receive their meningitis vaccine. For Stevenson seniors, the deadline is October 17th to get their shot. School nurses have been contacting students and their parents through letters, emails, Facebook, and Twitter. Home phone calls were made during the countdown by all school nurses.

Nurses recommend that students get their immunization shots.

“[We want to prepare students] so that you leave here and go to college protected,” said school nurse Peg Cucci. As this is a new statewide policy, it is beneficial to protect all students in the future.

Interestingly enough, not all students agree with Cucci. Julia Borovkov ‘17 says that she doesn’t believe in vaccines. Borovkov is not alone. Many other students and parents have these beliefs, yet they find no use in fighting it.

“I feel they sometimes do more harm than good to the human body, depending on the vaccine and what the illness is,” Borovkov says. But with the state law, she had no choice but to get her immunization over the summer.

Meningitis is usually contracted by sharing everyday objects, which lead to infections. Stevenson and the state of Illinois want to prepare students for their lives post high school.
Meningitis outbreaks are most common in freshman dorms. To be protected, immunization allows the height of immunity to be during freshman year in college.

Last year, students and parents alike were a bit thrown off with the idea on why seniors needed new vaccinations, according to Nick Valenziano, supervisor of health staff. In the future, Stevenson is hoping the routine will become more regular due to increased awareness. Borovkov says she found out through the D125 website and a call from her local doctor.

“There was a lot of information that needed to be shared with parents and regarding the meningitis vaccine as it not a law that was highly publicized by the media,” said Valenziano. Stevenson is trying its hardest to make sure all students have their immunization in time. Recently there was a clinic at school offering the shot and making it accessible and affordable for most families.

“[Only] six people availed themselves of that opportunity,” said Cucci. Stevenson is trying to be as accessible as possible in every way. Students who don’t advocate to help themselves can’t receive help. “We [nurses] are doing everything imaginable except taking a mobile van and pulling it in front of everybody’s house,” said Cucci.

If a senior doesn’t get their immunization or a documentation of it on time, they will be called down to their dean. Until it is completed or an appointment is scheduled, the student will be sent home.

“Non-compliant students will be called down by their dean or a nurse to confirm that a meningitis vaccination has occurred or that an appointment has been scheduled. If not, the student would be sent home until an immunization appointment could be confirmed,” said Valenziano.

Many other schools in the area have started utilizing a new policy called first day exclusion. The policy includes that students can’t do anything at the beginning of the year until their immunization is documented.

“You can walk into the building, but they won’t let you pick up your schedule,” said Cucci. “That is not currently the policy here at Stevenson, but from the nurse’s standpoint, we would like to see first day exclusion.”