School district compliant with immunization rules

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was found to be 100 percent compliant in ensuring students without exemptions are vaccinated.

Superintendent Sean Dusek announced at the March 8 Board of Education meeting that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services sampled 800 immunization records in the annual school audits completed early this year.

“It ensures that we are all doing the same thing that other schools are doing across the state,” said Carmen Magee, the school district’s health services coordinator. “The audits just confirm that for us.”

Different schools are chosen for the audit from year to year and the sample size also fluctuates depending on student population, Magee said. If it is a larger pool the number of records audited is higher, she said.

The goal is to visit schools on a periodic basis, between every 1-3 years, said Gerri Yett, manager of the department of health’s Section of Epidemiology Immunization Program.

They are chosen randomly, although some may receive audits more often than others, she said.

“It is a public health measure to reduce the burden the incidence and burden of diseases,” Yett said.

Sites in nearly every one of Alaska’s 54 public school districts are audited each year, Yett said. The Kenai school district is usually completely compliant, citing Magee’s direction as one of the main factors, she said.

The state requires 11 different immunizations on a schedule once students enter kindergarten and until they graduate high school.

Some of those can be taken in combination doses. Taking multiple vaccines in one go can save time and money, Magee said. For families that cannot afford the medical costs, there are places funded through the Department of Health that will immunize for free, she said.

Magee said it is important to get students immunized.

“It helps us in keeping students well and in their seats so they can be educated,” Magee said.

However, the school district always respects that it is the family’s choice, she said.

Magee said roughly 15 percent of students have legally opted out of the required immunizations either for medical or religious purposes.

“It is important that we follow the regulations that are established to help ensure the health of our schools and communities,” Magee said.