CORONAVIRUS | VACCINE MANDATE

Does the government require the polio vaccine?

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require students to be vaccinated against a number of diseases including polio in order to attend school.

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Does the government require the polio vaccine?
ROBYN BECK AFP

Each state across the US requires that students be vaccinated against a range of communicable diseases as a condition for school attendance. The list and age by when children need to receive each of the different vaccines varies from state to state.

Polio is one of the vaccines that every state requires for kids in order to enter kindergarten. Children are normally given four doses of the polio vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months and then the final dose at 4 years of age.

What is polio?

Polio was once a scourge across the globe and one of the most feared diseases attacking its victims' muscles, possibly causing paralysis and even death among those who got infected. The virus before vaccines were available caused over 15,000 cases of paralysis a year in the US.

Through a widespread vaccination effort beginning in 1955, wild polio has been eliminated from the US since 1979 and now much of the globe is considered polio free. The virus is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only two countries where wild polio is still endemic, but health officials are on the lookout to make sure there is not a resurgence as happened in Nigeria in 2016.

Even though polio has been eradicated from the US, the virus was brought into the country by travelers carrying the disease in 1993. Until it is completely wiped out like smallpox was in 1980 vaccination is the best way to keep it from gaining a foothold again.

What other vaccines are mandated?

Vaccination against varicella (chickenpox), diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are required in all 50 states for children as a condition for school attendance starting in kindergarten. These are given as two different vaccines, one for varicella and another for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP). There are also exemptions for vaccination in each state for certain cases.

The District of Columbia and all of the states except for one requires the measles, mumps, & rubella (MMR) vaccine. The outlier, Iowa, doesn’t require the mumps vaccine but children need to be vaccinated against measles and a rubella.

Except for Alabama, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont, all other states and the District of Columbia require vaccination against hepatitis B (Hep B) for school children to enter kindergarten.

For other vaccinations required for entry into kindergarten parents should check with your state here.