2006 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Burton
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-23-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DIRECT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO REQUIRE ALL CHILDREN ENTERING KINDERGARTEN, FIRST AND THIRD GRADES TO PASS AN APPROVED VISION SCREENING PROGRAM AND TO PROVIDE FOR FOLLOW-UP EYE EXAMINATIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-23-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-23-37. (1) Whenever indicated, the State Health Officer shall specify such immunization practices as may be considered best for the control of vaccine preventable diseases. A listing shall be promulgated annually or more often, if necessary.
(2) (a) Except as provided hereinafter, it shall be unlawful for any child to attend any school, kindergarten or similar type facility intended for the instruction of children (hereinafter called "schools"), either public or private, with the exception of any legitimate home instruction program as defined in Section 37-13-91, Mississippi Code of 1972, for ten (10) or less children who are related within the third degree computed according to the civil law to the operator, unless they shall first have been vaccinated against those diseases specified by the State Health Officer.
(b) A certificate of exemption from vaccination for medical reasons may be offered on behalf of a child by a duly licensed physician and may be accepted by the local health officer when, in his opinion, such exemption will not cause undue risk to the community.
(c) Certificates of vaccination shall be issued by local health officers or physicians on forms specified by the Mississippi State Board of Health. These forms shall be the only acceptable means for showing compliance with these immunization requirements, and the responsible school officials shall file the form with the child's record.
(d) If a child shall offer to enroll at a school without having completed the required vaccinations, the local health officer may grant a period of time up to ninety (90) days for such completion when, in the opinion of the health officer, such delay will not cause undue risk to the child, the school or the community. No child shall be enrolled without having had at least one (1) dose of each specified vaccine.
(e) Within thirty (30) days after the opening of the fall term of school (on or before October 1 of each year) the person in charge of each school shall report to the county or local health officer, on forms provided by the Mississippi State Board of Health, the number of children enrolled by age or grade or both, the number fully vaccinated, the number in process of completing vaccination requirements, and the number exempt from vaccination by reason for such exemption.
(f) Within one hundred twenty (120) days after the opening of the fall term (on or before December 31), the person in charge of each school shall certify to the local or county health officer that all children enrolled are in compliance with immunization requirements.
(g) For the purpose of assisting in supervising the immunization status of the children the local health officer, or his designee, may inspect the children's records or be furnished certificates of immunization compliance by the school.
(h) It shall be the responsibility of the person in charge of each school to enforce the requirements for immunization. Any child not in compliance at the end of ninety (90) days from the opening of the fall term must be suspended until in compliance, unless the health officer shall attribute the delay to lack of supply of vaccine or some other such factor clearly making compliance impossible.
Failure to enforce provisions of this act shall constitute a misdemeanor and upon conviction be punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
(3) (a) Upon entering Kindergarten, or within thirty (30) days of the start of the school year, the parent or guardian of each child shall present to school health personnel certification that the child within the previous twelve (12) months passed a vision screening conducted by personnel approved by the State Department of Health. The department shall promulgate regulations to establish vision screening standards.
(b) Upon entering first and third grades or within thirty (30) days of the start of the school year, the parent or guardian of each child shall present to school health personnel certification that the child within the previous six (6) months passed a vision screening conducted by personnel approved by the State Department of Health. The department shall promulgate regulations to establish vision screening standards.
(c) For those children enrolling in Kindergarten, first or third grades that fail the required vision screening, a comprehensive eye examination, performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, shall also be required. A comprehensive eye examination shall include measurement of visual acuity; ocular alignment and motility; depth perception-stereopsis; fusion; slit lamp; examination of the anterior segment and pupils; cycloplegic refraction and dilated fundus exam. Any person who conducts a comprehensive eye examination of a child in response to such child having failed a vision screening given in accordance with the provisions of this section shall forward a written report of the results of the examination to school health personnel and a copy of the report to a parent or guardian of such child and the child's primary health care provider. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(i) Date of report;
(ii) Name, address and date of birth of the child;
(iii) Name of the child's school;
(iv) Type of examination;
(v) A summary of significant findings, including diagnoses, medication used, duration of action of medication, treatment, prognosis, whether or not a return visit is recommended and, if so, when;
(vi) Recommended educational adjustments for the child, if any, which may including the following: preferential seating in the classroom, eyeglasses for full-time use in school, eyeglasses for part-time use in school, sight-saving eyeglasses or any other recommendations;
(vii) Name, address and signature of the examiner.
(d) No child shall be excluded from attending Kindergarten, first or third grade for a parent's or guardian's failure to furnish a report of the child's vision screening or an examiner's failure to furnish the results of a child's comprehensive ophthalmologic examination. Parents and guardians that fail to present the required report shall be notified in writing of the required vision examination.
(e) Enforcement of the provisions of this act shall be performed by the local school superintendent or headmaster of the private school, or director of the Kindergarten program, as appropriate. The State Department of Health shall issue a report annually on the impact and effectiveness of the law.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.