Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) clears key hurdle to approve new requirements for many Illinois children and young people

The new vaccination and immunization requirements will be enforced when most children are enrolled in child care, public school, or private school in Illinois. Their parents will be required to present either an immunization certificate or a medical form when the child is presented or enrolled in a group environment. The Department is authorized to impose vaccination requirements by rule as part of its overall legal authorization to protect Illinois public health.

One problem with vaccination requirements is that they have become much more complex over the past thirty years. Many older Illinoisans remember getting a measles shot and then a polio shot. The simple progression of shots that many parents remember from their own childhoods have been replaced by a complex schedule of immunizations in which a lengthy list of contagious conditions, many referred to by acronyms, are merged into a complicated schedule of immunization windows that open and close at different times as an infant grows into childhood and young adulthood. For example, here is an immunization chart for children from birth to 6 years of age.

The IDPH immunization rule reflects the recommendation of nationwide public-health authorities, including panels convened by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that try to optimize the series of immunizations that most infants, children, and young adults need to have. The complex schedule of windows that open and close is supposed to implement this optimization. In a few cases, some immunizations are contraindicated for some young people. The new IDPH rules contain provisions for a family to seek medical counsel. If a physician has evidence that a child should not get a particular kind of shot or immunization, he or she can sign a contraindication exemption form. A school will be required to accept the form as a valid substitute for certification that the child has been immunized.

The IDPH immunization rules were presented this week to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bipartisan panel of the Illinois General Assembly that scrutinizes the rules generated by administrative agencies such as the Department of Public Health. After full discussion over a two-month period, the legislative panel approved the IDPH rules for filing.

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