News from Hepatitis Week of Sept. 7, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 36
Jail Threatened Over Hepatitis B Vaccinations in Washington, DC

Washington D.C. officials are threatening fines and jail time for parents of public school students who have not received their hepatitis B and other required vaccinations.

Almost 3,000 public school students in the city still have not had all of the vaccinatons they need to enter school. The city by law can punish the parents of these children with a maximum $100 fine and up to five days in jail.

"Certainly our priority is getting kids into school, not locking up parents," Peter Lavallee, a District of Columbia official who monitors immunization rates, told the Washington Times. "This early in the school year it could be counterproductive to do that."

Ralph Neal, an assistant public school superintendent, said school employees have been visiting the homes of parents whose children have not had their shots. He expects administrators to soon begin preparing papers that could bring legal action against the parents.

Other sources: Washington Times (September 6, 2003)