DHS Announces Immunization Updates for Children in Child Care Centers and Schools
Updates follow federal recommendations and other states to protect communities against vaccine-preventable diseases
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has announced updates to the immunizations needed for children in child care centers and schools. The changes include updated requirements related to meningitis and whooping cough immunizations, and that past chickenpox infection must be documented by a qualified medical professional. There is no change to existing exemption options for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. Seasonal flu vaccination or COVID-19 vaccination are not required, but remain strongly recommended.
Child care centers will need to begin working with parents now to ensure children have proper varicella (chickenpox) vaccine documentation, and schools will implement these changes for the 2023-2024 school year. The update is part of changes made to Wisconsin’s immunization of students regulation (Wis. Admin. Code DHS 144) effective February 1, 2023, and in accordance with chapter 227 of the Wisconsin Statutes. DHS will work with its partners to ensure those affected by this change have a smooth implementation.
“Each of these vaccines is already recommended for children, and today’s update improves that protection. Parents who choose to keep their children up to date on vaccinations are not only protecting their own child’s health but are making a choice that protects the people who live and work in their communities,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “Vaccines are safe and effective and are one the strongest tools we have to prevent getting sick from diseases. Some diseases can be deadly, especially to young children. DHS encourages all parents to work with their child’s health care provider to ensure their child is up to date on immunizations.”
Parents and guardians can call 211 with help finding a local provider or clinic, or Vaccines for Children program provider. The Vaccines for Children program provides no or low-cost vaccines for those who are eligible. Any Wisconsin parent or guardian who has questions about their child’s vaccination record can contact their child’s primary doctor, health care provider, community clinic, local or Tribal health department, or check online through the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.
Wisconsin’s most recent vaccination rates in child care centers and schools show a decline as parents and providers work to get caught up on vaccinations that were put on hold during the pandemic. Current immunization rates for schools in 2021-2022 show:
- 88.7% of students met the minimum immunization requirements – a 3.2% decrease from the previous year.
- 3.3% of students were behind schedule on their vaccinations – a 0.4% increase from the previous year.
For more information, learn more about Wisconsin’s immunization requirements on the DHS website.