February 7, 2018
The Oregon Immunization Program is reminding parents that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting Feb. 21—School Exclusion Day—if their records on file show missing immunizations.
State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities have up-to-date documentation on their immunizations, or have an exemption.
“Immunization keeps schools and the entire community healthy and safe,” said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. “It is the best way to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles.”
Children whose school and child care vaccination records are not up to date on Feb. 21 will be sent home. Local health departments in 2017 sent 29,932 letters to parents and guardians informing them their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care. A total of 4,646 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the schools or child care facilities. Letters to parents were mailed on or before Feb. 7.
Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their health care provider or local health department, or call 211Info (dial 211 or go to 211info.org). No one can be turned away from a local health department because of inability to pay for required vaccines. Many pharmacists can immunize children 7 years and older. Parents should contact their neighborhood pharmacy for details.
Paul Cieslak, MD, medical director for the Oregon Immunization Program, said vaccines are a great way to protect children because they boost their bodies’ natural defenses.
“Vaccines give kids the immunity they need without their having to suffer the illnesses,” Cieslak said. “They’re perhaps the best ounce of prevention kids can get.”
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