(WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa.) — For most high school seniors, the prom is the event that sets off the countdown to graduation. Students winding down to end of their high school career finally get the chance to celebrate the close of one chapter and the prospect of new adventures after high school.
But just a day before the big dance at one Pennsylvania high school, dozens of students were told to stay home because they had not had the chicken pox vaccine.
“Twenty hours before the biggest dance ever, and it just so happened they told me I was no longer allowed to go,” Norwin High School senior Kayla Boscia told ABC News affiliate WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh.
In a letter from the school district, Boscia and 32 other students were told one student had the disease and that they were part of a 21-day incubation period because they had not been vaccinated. This means no classes, no prom and no graduation for the students lacking vaccinations.
The district says its hands are tied, with the regulations coming down from state health officials. However, students can attend the prom if they can prove immunity via blood testing, or by getting a shot by Sunday.
Norwin senior Marissa Huss made sure to get her shot right away, given her responsibilities at several senior activities, including her graduation speech.
“The six of us planned the entire prom, and we also planned graduation. And I was speaking at graduation,” Huss told WTAE-TV.
But some students may still miss out on the dance, losing hundreds of dollars with prom tickets costing $125. Blood test results can often take 48 hours to four days to come back.
Parents of the unvaccinated students complained that the order to stay home isn’t fair. The district policy exempts students from vaccination requirements for religious or medical reasons. But parents were told the state regulations trump district policy.
“Did you sign a waiver to not have your child vaccinated? Yes. So you were under the presumption of what?” Lisa Grudowski said. “That we were fine. We were assuming all responsibility if our child comes home with the disease.”
“This is it. She’s a senior. She can’t go next year. She can’t make it up. This is it,” she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio