- California SB 277 (leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB277) would eliminate the personal belief exemption and require the governing board of a school district to notify parents or guardians at the beginning of the school term about immunization rates for the school in which the child is enrolled.
- Missouri H 846 (www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?year=2015&bill=HB%20846&code=R) would require parental notification if a non-immunized child is in attendance at the child’s school.
- New York A.B. 943 and SB 1536 — the “philosophical exemption to immunizations act” (open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S1536-2015) would provide for a philosophical exemption.
- Vermont H 212 (legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2016/H.212) would remove the religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccinations.
- Washington HB 2009 (app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2009&year=2015) would remove the state’s current philosophical/personal belief exemption to immunization requirements.
- For information about each state’s requirements and exemptions, visit www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx
Immunization and Camps
A. Description of any camp activities from which the camper should be exempted for health reasons;
B. Record of past medical treatment, if any;
C. Record of allergies and/or dietary restrictions;
D. A statement from the custodial parent/guardian attesting that all immunizations required for school are up to date and including the actual date (month/year) of last tetanus shot;
E. Record of current medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter; and
F. Description of any current physical, mental, or psychological conditional requiring medication, treatment, or special restrictions or considerations while at camp?
- Know each camper and staff member’s immunization status. Require an immunization history (including month and year for each type of immunization) for each camper and staff member on the camp’s health history form. This is particularly important when illness associated with lack of immunization occurs. Understand your state’s exemptions from school immunization requirements as well. (See section below on immunization for more information.)
- Decide if you will allow unvaccinated campers and staff at your camp. Understand the risk if you do accept a camper or staff member who has not been immunized for measles. ACA-Accreditation standards allow for a camp to accept campers who have not been immunized due to medical, religious or other reasons — requiring instead that the parent/custodial guardian can sign a waiver form. If someone not protected through immunization comes in contact with an infected person, many public health departments have initiated mandatory 21 day quarantine. Each public health department may handle this differently. For example, where the quarantine occurs (camp or elsewhere), who is quarantined including potential distinctions between people who have a medically documented reason for not being immunized (e.g. immune-compromised) versus those whose parents chose not to immunize, etc.
- Understand the facts about the disease. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles can be serious — even fatal — for young children. While rare, it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. People exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated almost always get measles.
- Understand why there has been an outbreak in the United States. As of February 2015, 150 new cases of measles have been reported across 16 states in the United States. Public health officials have declared that the disease has spread in part because of lower rates of vaccination in certain parts of the U.S.
- Ensure you have educated healthcare staff. While only a physician can diagnose measles, ensure that your healthcare staff understand the symptoms and have procedures in place to immediately seek medical care if measles are suspected.
- Consider tracking the percent of immunized campers and staff at your camp. This may be important information for parents of children who cannot be immunized; it helps them understand the potential risk exposure for their child. Use data from last season if tracking this season’s percent is challenging.
OTHER COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
- Partner with parents to reduce the introduction of communicable diseases in camp: Educate parents and caregivers about their role in illness prevention BEFORE camp begins. This parent flyer provides key messages for parents.
- Establish “opening day” screening processes: Establish processes that screen campers for communicable diseases when they arrive at camp. Set a policy that states that the camp retains the right to refuse admission to someone who poses a communicable disease threat.
- Establish and implement policies that prevent the spread of disease: Personal protective practices such as frequent hand washing, remaining hydrated, sleeping with the greatest distance between heads, and effectively covering coughs and sneezes (with an arm or sleeve — NOT a hand) should be included.
- Establish policies to keep your staff healthy: Policies and performance evaluations should reinforce how important it is that staff take proper care of themselves, including getting sufficient amounts of rest.
- Regularly evaluate and update your health care practices and procedures: Comply with standard HW-5. In addition, seek out and use the most-up-to-date information from trusted resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see Resources section below).
For more information and resources about camps and communicable disease, visit Sample Health Forms and Records.
Contributed by Susan E. Yoder