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After a year of coaxing and prodding, the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Allegheny County Health Department are making a final big push to make sure about 11,500 city schoolchildren comply with new immunization requirements.Students who haven't been vaccinated or do not provide proof of vaccination will be barred from school beginning Oct.

1.The school district last week mailed reminders to the parents of about 11,500 students who, according to district records, aren't in compliance with county's new immunization requirements for chicken pox, meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, or pertussis.The fliers advised parents of the pressing need to have their children vaccinated or provide documentation of the immunizations.

To spur compliance, the health department and school district have announced a series of free vaccination clinics at city schools.Clinics for students in grades 7-12 will be held tomorrow at Pittsburgh Peabody High School in East Liberty and Thursday at Pittsburgh Langley High School in Sheraden.

Clinics for students in kindergarten through grade 12 will be held July 28 at Pittsburgh King PreK-8 on the North Side and July 30 at Pittsburgh West Liberty K-5 in Brookline.Hours for the school clinics are 10 a.m.

to 2 p.m.Appointments are not necessary, though students in grades six and below must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.Students in grades seven and above must bring a consent form signed by a parent; the form is available at the clinics or may be downloaded from vaccines also are offered for free at the health department's walk-in clinic at 3441 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

Hours are 1 to 8 p.m.

Wednesdays and 9 a.m.

to 4 p.m.

on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.In 2007 and last year, the health department and County Council adopted regulations requiring a second dose of the chicken pox vaccine -- or proof a child has had the disease -- for all students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The county also decided to require students in grades seven and above to get a meningitis vaccine and "Tdap" vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough."The cornerstone of public health work is prevention," said Janet Yuhasz, the school district's health services coordinator.Health department spokesman Guillermo Cole said the county decided to require the meningitis vaccine, commonly given to college students, because adolescence also is a time of susceptibility.Students are required to receive multiple doses of tetanus and diphtheria as they age.

The Tdap provides a booster to students in the middle grade and high schools.

The county has not required a pertussis vaccination until now, Mr.

Cole said.Countywide, the requirements affect about 150,000 students in public, private, parochial, charter and cyber charter schools.

About 30,000 students across the county aren't yet in compliance, with a disproportionate number coming from the city, Mr.

Cole said.The regulations were in place last school year, but districts were given time to bring students into compliance.

Now, officials say, students without documentation of the vaccines will be barred beginning Oct.

1.The school district said it has spent the last year writing and calling parents to urge compliance."I think that, honestly, for many of our parents who are juggling so many balls at one time, they simply did not submit the documentation," Ms.

Yuhasz said.

Parents may submit documentation to the district's health services office or to their child's school.If students were vaccinated but lack documentation, they may be vaccinated again, Mr.

Cole said.

He said students will be granted exemptions for religious or moral reasons.Joe Smydo can be reached at [email protected] or 412-263-1548.First published on July 20, 2009 at 12:00 am
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