WYOMING — Important state rules covering immunizations have been updated by the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) with newly required vaccines and other changes to better protect Wyoming children from a number of diseases.
“We want to ensure our state’s children have the best possible protection from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “These enhanced rules reflect medical advancements and knowledge and are designed to both streamline and strengthen how our rules are applied.”
In Wyoming, a child cannot attend a school or child caring facility for more than 30 days without proof of immunization. “The vaccines we list as ‘required’ are the ones needed under this rule,” Harrist said.
Vaccinations against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus have been added to the list of required vaccines for children who attend Wyoming schools or child caring facilities.
The pneumococcal shot helps protect most children from potentially serious infections caused by pneumococcal bacteria, such as pneumococcal meningitis and pneumonia.
The rotavirus vaccine is given by mouth and helps protect children against rotavirus illness, a potentially serious disease involving diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. “Rotavirus can be very harmful when it leads to dehydration, which is dangerous for babies and young children and sometimes leads to hospitalization,” Harrist said. Because only babies younger than 8 months can receive the rotavirus vaccine, catchup doses aren’t required for older children by the new rules.
Harrist, a pediatrician, said vaccines are safe and effective and offer important protection against a number of preventable diseases. “Vaccines are a true public health success story. Sometimes though, because vaccines have been so successful in preventing many previously common diseases, people may not realize their children could still be at risk from these threats,” Harrist said. “Protection against these diseases should not be taken for granted.”
Children who are homeschooled, but who participate in public or private school activities, will now also need to meet Wyoming’s immunization requirements, as well as any child who attends a child caring facility.
Wyoming offers limited medical and religious exemptions from the state’s immunization rules. The exemption process has been streamlined by dropping a 7th-grade renewal requirement.
Rules and procedures for healthcare professionals who administer vaccines in Wyoming have also been updated, including a requirement to report immunization data to the Wyoming Immunization Registry (WyIR). “This change should improve patient care and support disease management and control efforts,” Harrist said.
Harrist noted Wyoming’s vaccine requirements are in line with national standards set by a group of experts known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Recommended schedules can be found online.
General information about vaccines for children and the diseases they prevent is available here.
Vaccines, including those required for school attendance, are provided at no cost for Wyoming children from birth until the day before their 19th birthday through the state-funded Wyoming Vaccinates Important People (WyVIP) Program or the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. While these programs provide free vaccines to providers, there may be small administration fees. However, children can still receive vaccines even if parents or guardians are unable to afford the fees.