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8/21/2000

Mandatory Varicella Vaccination Gaining in States

Cheryl A. Thompson

Add South Dakota to the list of states requiring varicella vaccination of children before they enter school, and pencil in Missouri and Ohio.

At the health department’s request, the South Dakota legislature added varicella immunization as a condition for school entry. Children in that state now must have adequate immunization against eight infectious diseases, including chickenpox, before entering school or an early childhood program.

In Missouri, the General Assembly has been discussing legislation that would require varicella and hepatitis A immunizations for children attending day care centers, preschools, or nursery schools and for older schoolchildren. The Ohio General Assembly has a bill that would require varicella immunization of children and preteens by the time they first enter school or at the beginning of the school year.

According to vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc., 18 states now require children to have immunization against chickenpox by the time they enter school. Twenty states require immunization before entry into day care.