Hepatitis B and the School
As more states require the hepatitis B vaccine for school entry, parents are increasingly asking whether they need to inform the school of their child's diagnosis. This is a gray area where parents must use their personal discretion since there is no perfect answer.
Disclosing Your Child's Diagnosis
If you decide to disclose your child's hepatitis B, remain calm, provide literature to reinforce the facts, and give the school a letter from your child's doctor stating that s/he is healthy and poses no risk to the other children if appropriate precautions are maintained. Most states require hepatitis B vaccination prior to school entry, so this reduces any potential risk to other students.
We recommend the following when disclosing your child's hepatitis B to school officials:
- Stress the importance of confidentiality and universal precautions to protect your child from social discrimination.
- Remind school officials that hepatitis B is transmitted through exposure to blood; it is not transmitted casually.
- Explain that hepatitis B is not the only blood-borne disease that puts children at risk.
- Consider saying "Treat my child as you should treat every child - with care. You know what risk my child poses, but you don't know the risk that other children might present."
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (1991) is a federal law that may protect against discrimination related to chronic hepatitis B. Many states have clauses written into their AIDS disclosure laws, which may also protect persons with hepatitis B.
State Hepatitis B Vaccine Laws
A list of the Hepatitis B Prevention Mandates for all states is published by the Immunization Action Coalition. This site will help you find out each state's laws regarding hepatitis B vaccine requirements for daycare, elementary school, and middle school.