Every bit as important as a child's address, phone number, and attendance history is his or her immunization record. Not only is storing up-to-date immunization records required by state law, but you also need a way to show prospective clients that you have the best interests of their children in mind.
However, keeping track of vaccinations can be challenging. Childcare management software can help, but there are several elements to monitoring immunization records for multiple children and multiple facilities.
Scheduling Immunization Schedules with Childcare Software
Immunization schedules are complicated. For example, the State of Texas requires the following vaccinations for students in grades K through 12.
- Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP/DTP/DT/Td/Tdap)
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A and B
Each particular immunization has its own schedule and number of doses; the Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis vaccine requires four to five doses depending on the formulation. None of the vaccinations requires less than two doses.
Each child begins immunizations according to his or her birth date, not a common date for everyone. Some children are on an expanded schedule, makeup schedule, or under an exemption for one or more vaccines.
Part of your registration and enrollment process should include requiring copies of each child’s immunization record before attending. Once you have received that initial copy, however, you need a way to keep track of each child’s remaining requirements, due dates, and health history.
When you select your childcare management solution, look for one with flexible database features that allow you to administer and store the correct records and data about other immunization requirements.
Exemptions to Immunization Rules
Not every child receives every vaccination. A few cannot receive any immunizations for various reasons.
- The child has already had the disease, and immunization is no longer warranted.
- Parents and physicians may decide to use combination vaccines with several vaccines in one shot or opt for individual vaccinations for each childhood disease.
- The demographics of your students may not require the same schedule of vaccinations as a younger or older segment of the population.
- A child may be exempted from vaccinations based on philosophical or religious reasons.
- The child may have had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccine or its ingredients, such as eggs.
Texas law allows two exemptions. A physician can write a medical exemption statement that the vaccine(s) required would be medically harmful or injurious to the health and well-being of a child or household member. Medical exemptions are only good for one year unless the physician notes on the exemption form that the child has a lifelong condition.
Alternatively, parents or guardians can elect an exemption for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. There is no exemption for inconvenience. A child can be enrolled provisionally if he or she has received at least one dose of each specified, age-appropriate vaccine before school or care begins.
Beyond recording an exemption, you should indicate when and why a child is exempt from a specific immunization, if possible, without invading privacy laws.
Parent Notifications with Childcare Software
Advance notification is critical to distributing timely reminders to parents and staff for any upcoming health requirement such as a yearly well-child check. Since immunization schedules are so complex, you need a system that will provide plenty of warning when a due date is approaching.
Parents need enough time to arrange a doctor’s appointment as well as create a contingency plan if their child becomes ill the day of the scheduled vaccination.
An easy-to-read dashboard can show all notifications of both upcoming and past due immunizations for each child so you can take action to protect the safety of the rest of your customers while helping parents protect their child’s health. Notifications should be made visible on the Parent Portal as well as provided as a hardcopy note in their child’s folder or take-home work.
Besides the immunizations completed at the time of enrollment and the ones performed while the child is in attendance at your facility, you may need to be able to produce a record containing all immunizations for each child, when each immunization was received, and whether the proper schedule has been followed.
Most records parents obtain from their pediatrician’s office contain a complete record of all immunizations for that child, although not all are in the same format. With the advance of electronic medical records, perhaps soon, records will be received in an electronic format that allows you to download them into your childcare management system.
Where Can Parents Get an Official Immunization Record?
Occasionally a parent may tell you they are unable to put together a complete record because the family has moved frequently, changed doctors, or their clinic doesn’t keep records beyond a certain period. Let them know there are other options they can explore.
- The state health department may have a complete copy of a child's immunization record, or the record may be in a registry or information system, which most states have.
- The child's schools may be able to help create a complete copy.
- Parents may need to have a child vaccinated again if records cannot be found and they do not wish to exempt their child. This can happen in cases of foster children and older adopted children.
Remind them that the immunization requirements protect everyone and it is required that you document it for every child in your care.
Implementing Your Immunization Database
There are no national immunization requirements in the US. Each state determines the required immunizations for enrollment at school and childcare facilities. These requirements and allowable exemptions differ from state to state, so you need a database you can easily customize to your needs.
Tracking vaccinations at your childcare center is an essential requirement in most states. While each state may have different requirements and exemptions, most will have several immunizations in common.
You need a system that allows you to keep accurate records of children's immunizations received before they enrolled and that provides a timely notification for the next required dose. Childcare management software can digitize those records and automatically notify you and the parents or guardians of upcoming immunizations. Also, an automated system allows you to create a variety of reports to use for inspections and other state requirements.
Immunization records and history are part of a complete childcare record. A childcare management solution can ease the administrative burden.