Seymour addressing immunization rates

Seymour High School registered nurse and corporation school nurse coordinator Sherry Reinhart recently presented the 2020-21 school immunization report.

Every year, the Indiana Department of Education releases a report letting each corporation know how it’s doing compared to other schools.

In the elementary schools, kindergarten immunizations are counted.

Last year at Seymour-Redding Elementary School, 111 kindergartners, or 84%, were up to date on childhood immunizations compared to the average of all Indiana elementary schools, which was 79%.

The percentage of students at all schools who are not immunized due to medical exemptions or religious objections was 0% at Redding and 1.4% statewide.

Cortland Elementary School was at 100% of childhood immunizations, and Reinhart said she’s really proud of that.

Emerson Elementary School was at 83%, Margaret R. Brown Elementary School was at 63% and Seymour-Jackson Elementary School was at 75% fully immunized.

Seymour Middle School was at 76%, and the state average of middle school students immunized is 67%.

Reinhart said for high schools immunizations, the state looks at just the 12th-graders. At Seymour High School last year, 53% of the seniors were fully immunized, equaling the state average.

Reinhart said the number of students who are past due for childhood immunizations at Seymour High School is 242 out of 1,613 total students, while at the Seymour Middle Sixth Grade Center, there are 130 out of 374 total students, and at Brown Elementary School, there are 71 out of 674 total students.

“What we want to do is we are striving for excellence, so we want to get a 95% vaccination rate for our students,” Reinhart said. “So in order to do that, we are continuing to have vaccination clinics for the high school, sixth grade center and Brown Elementary, which have the lowest vaccination rates, and we’re having clinics on Nov. 8 hoping to get all of those students up to date and immunized.”

She said they want to keep the kids in school, especially after everything that has happened with the COVID-19 pandemic and with so many kids being out. They feel the best way to do that is by having the clinics in the schools so they can get immunized properly at school.

“These clinics will include the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine; however, if they receive the COVID vaccine, their parents will have to be there,” Reinhart said. “That’s for the kids 16 and under.”

Seymour also plans to improve the immunization rates for students by the school nurses being notified of every student who is new to their school.

“This will allow the school nurse to immediately start working with families with the help of translators if needed to ensure that these students are vaccinated,” Reinhart said. “Also, our school nurses will monitor the student vaccinations on an ongoing basis throughout the school year.”

The report also included COVID vaccination rates at Seymour High School and Seymour Middle School.

At the middle school, 217 out of 820 total students are fully vaccinated, equal to 26%. At the high school, ninth grade has 158 out of 486 or 32% total students fully vaccinated, 10th grade has 118 out of 389 total students fully vaccinated, equal to 30%, 11th grade has 172 out of 371 total students fully vaccinated, equal to 46%, and 12th grade has 151 out of 367 total students vaccinated, equal to 41%.

School board member Jeff Joray asked Reinhart about those students who are not immunized for childhood diseases as required in order to go to school.

“We just try to keep them in school and keep having these clinics at the schools to get them vaccinated or else they could stay out for days and days before the requirement is met,” Reinhart said. “We know that these diseases really are important, and we sometimes have an outbreak, and we really want to prevent that, so we’re really working hard to get those kids immunized at the clinic and contact every parent to let them know their child should be vaccinated.”

Joray then asked if there was any penalty for a student not having the required immunizations for school, and Reinhart said no, except for the parents getting a lot of phone calls about getting their child vaccinated.

“That’s something we would need to discuss with our administrative team if we wanted to put every student out who is not vaccinated,” Reinhart said. “We are really trying to work with the families, and many of them don’t understand the process or where to go for vaccinations, but we’re really trying to help them with the process of making appointments.”

According to the Indiana Immunization Coalition (, Indiana Code states a child is not permitted to attend school beyond the first day without furnishing a written record of immunizations unless: The school gives a waiver (for a period not to exceed 20 days) or the local health department or a physician determines the child’s immunizations have been delayed due to extreme circumstances and the required immunizations will not be completed by the first day of school.

The parent must furnish a written statement and a time schedule approved by a physician or health department or a medical exemption or religious objection is on file.

School exclusion is determined, however, by the individual school corporation, according to Indiana Code. The Indiana State Department of Health strongly recommends adherence to this code.