Virginia Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman said yesterday that a new state law does not require public school students in the state to be completely immunized against childhood diseases before entering classes.
His opinion was aimed at resolving a dispute between state health authorities and local school officials over a new state law that says entering students must be "successfully immunized."
School officials in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, differing with the state health officials had said the rules require only that new students have begun the required series of vaccinations. But Alexandria officials said they were barring new students unless they had completed all the vaccinations, a process that can take several months.
In a letter to Virginia Secretary of Education J. Wade Gilly, Coleman said yesterday the state legislature did not intend for students to miss class while complying with the new rules, Coleman did say, however, that there could be some danger that students who are not completely immunized might be exposed to infectious diseases.
"Whether the child should take that risk or miss school is, in my view, a decision that his parent or guardian should make," said Coleman.
School localities admitting partially immunized students should obtain legal releases from liability for any damages the children might suffer due to illnesses contracted at schools, said Coleman