Camp safety report recommends removing non-medical vaccination exemptions


(CBS News) – About 14 million kids attend camps every summer. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is releasing a new report aimed at keeping kids safe and healthy.

It’s a quiet morning at Camp Alvernia in Centerport, NY. But in a few weeks, hundreds of campers will be there.

Camp Director Ben Esposito and his staff have been preparing for months – and this year with the recent measles outbreak, proof of vaccination is mandatory.

Esposito says, “We’ve had some families that have said, ‘okay, were gonna go and get the MMR vaccine.’ We’ve had other families that have said, ‘you know what? I’d like a refund, and we’re gonna find a different place.'”

A new American Academy of Pediatrics report on summer camp health and safety recommends campers be immunized on schedule and that camps eliminate non-medical exemptions for vaccines. The report also highlights allergic campers know how to use their EpiPens, and that medical devices be easily accessible.

Esposito says, “We have to have an emergency plan in place for treatment for anything that might possibly happen – so we do have a AED on site, certain types of medications we keep under double lock. Only trained medical staff can access them and administer those medications.”

The American Camp Association says families need to do their homework before sending kids off for the summer. That starts with making sure the camp is accredited and regulated.

Susie Lupert is Executive Director for the American Camp Association of NY/NJ. She says, “There’s in fact loopholes in different states that allow camps to operate with no licensure. It means that there’s no background checks being done on staff, it means that there’s no medical plans in place.”

The report also says parents should pick a camp that matches their child’s interests and skills, so that they have a happy and healthy camper.

Thousands of camps are unaccredited and unregulated in the U.S. The American Camp Association says parents should check to make sure their child’s camp is at least regulated by the Department of Health.

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