My name is Eileen Duffey. I am a 24 year veteran certified school nurse.
Our students are essentially vulnerable and helpless without bold leadership that can act swiftly during a public health emergency.
In today’s Inquirer, Kristin Graham exposes our district’s misguided leadership in refusing to allow exclusions of students from school when their immunizations do not meet PA immunization law.
In Philadelphia we recently experienced a local mumps outbreak at Temple Universitiy and measles outbreaks are escalating in other areas of the nation. Nonetheless, at the end of April over 12,000 students remain non-compliant with PA immunization law.
As nurses interviewed in today’s article stated, We concern ourselves with all our students, particularly those who are immunosuppressed as well as pregnant school personnel.
WE NURSES CONTEND THAT ADHERENCE TO STATE LAW WOULD MARKEDLY IMPROVE PHILADELPHIA IMMUNIZATION RATES AND THUS PROTECT THE HEALTH OF OUR STUDENTS AND OUR CITIZENS.
Ms. Karen Lynch, the Chief of Student Services has taken it upon herself to direct nurses to avoid exclusions. She says that best practices are necessary regarding vaccinations. Nurses know all about best practices.
To me “best practices” involves listening to professionals who have done their job successfully and have done it with negligible effect on school attendance rates.
“Best practices” involves hiring the best medical professionals you can find to manage the health of students while in school and to empower them to get the job done without interference.
It is time we address this blatant violation of the law before we have a tragedy on our hands.
I come here tonight to remind each of you that as a board, you have the ethical and moral responsibility to address the issue of misguided leadership thwarting nurses ability to improve immunization rates.
Our students deserve bold leadership. Guard them with extreme care. Ensure that , with regard to any medical conditions, the decision-making buck stops right where best practice demands, in the hands of the medical and nursing professionals working for the school district.
If you are not yet prepared to assume this responsibility by reversing current practice, be assured school nurses will continue to speak up.