BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Keing Taylor, 11, loves school–his favorite subject is math–but the Buffalo third grader has been sitting home all week because the two medical clinics where he went to get vaccinated were out the vaccine he needed.
One of the clinics told Keing’s mom, Rebecca Graves, they could not get a fresh supply of the vaccine until November, “He can’t be out of school until November 4. He is a high honor student.”
New York’s crackdown on school immunizations has led to unintended consequences, like Keing’s, for thousands of students across the state.
When state lawmakers repealed religious exemptions families had been using to avoid state mandated immunizations, earlier this year, they also set a hard 14-day time limit for students to get vaccinated.
As those grace periods have expired, school districts have started sending un-vaccinated students home because their medical caregivers were unprepared for a last-minute crush.
State health officials have said there is no shortage of the required vaccines, it is a matter of getting the medications to the practicioners..
Buffalo Public Schools started turning kids away Monday, when their grace period expired, and BPS Chief of Staff Darren Brown said school officials could see the surge coming.
“A week prior to that, which was [September]16th we had a little over 5,000 students that were not in compliance.”
When the pending calamity became abundantly clear, Brown said the District marshalled all hands on deck, coordinating state health efforts to get the needed vaccines to local medical facilities.
“Our nursing staff, our social workers–all of our staff–worked really, really hard to assist parents in getting the proper records in, making sure they had their appointments with their primary care physician.”
Brown said many of the children’s health clinics seem to be left “out of the loop,” with state health officials, and now that deficit of 5,000 un-vaccinated students from two weeks ago is down to about 1,500.
Those coordinated efforts have apparently shortened the time it is taking the local health facilities to stock up on vaccines.
School officials are now advising parents whose children are barred from school to contact their primary health care provider to arrange their vaccinations immediately.