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FOR RELEASE: July 7, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

State Board of Health Approves New Hepatitis B Vaccine Dosage Regimen for School Entry

The Oklahoma State Board of Health yesterday approved an amendment to immunization regulations that allows adolescents who receive the recently licensed two- dose hepatitis B vaccine regimen to be fully immunized against hepatitis B. Physicians will have the option of using either the new two-dose regimen, or the previously approved three-dose regimen, for children 11 through 15 years of age.

This amendment was approved by the Board of Health on an emergency basis, and will be in effect for the upcoming 2000-2001 school year. The amendment will apply to school children entering the seventh, eighth, ninth, or tenth grade.

This should benefit parents by reducing the possible number of visits to a health care provider to ensure completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series for their adolescents.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reminds parents of the importance of getting their children's back-to-school vaccinations now to avoid the long lines in August. Parents should make an appointment with their private doctor, or if their insurance does not cover immunizations, or if they have no insurance at all, contact their county health department for clinic times.

Children attending school in Oklahoma in the 2000-2001 school year who are in kindergarten through fourth grade must have 5 doses of DTaP, 4 doses of polio, and 2 doses of MMR vaccine.

Children who will be in seventh through tenth grade must have either 2 or 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine (depending on the particular hepatitis B vaccine given); children in kindergarten through second grade and seventh through ninth grade must have 2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine; and children in kindergarten through second grade must receive 1 dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

A child who has had chickenpox does not need varicella vaccine. The month and year the child had chickenpox disease should be recorded on the child's record with the notation, “had disease.”

Parents and caregivers who have questions about the immunizations required for school entry can contact their local county health department or the Oklahoma State Department of Health Immunization Division at (405) 271-4073.

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