BEND, OR -- Oregon Exclusion day is Wednesday, when students must have all their shots up to date. "Children are required to have an up-to-date immunization record or evidence of an exemption," says Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Jill Johnson, "It’s always the third Wednesday in February that children are not allowed to attend school if they don’t have either an up-to-date record or an exemption. So, parents need to provide those updates to their children’s school to clear them for exemption." The law applies to public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified day care facilities.
Johnson says her office sends letters each January to remind families who are not yet in compliance, "We did send about a thousand letters, this year, to parents that have children with incomplete records on file at their children’s school." But, she tells KBND News, kids haven’t been walking the halls since September completely unprotected, "By state law, they are required to have one of all their required vaccines to start. So, it’s not like they’re completely unvaccinated. The school nurses and the office staff in schools work really hard to get those kids up to date."
She acknowledges not immunizing is a conscious choice for some families, "Some parents choose not to vaccinate for a variety of reasons and some can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. We do have a pretty high exemption rate, here in Deschutes County. And, that is the issue at some of the schools that we worry about, from a public health standpoint." Dr. Paul Seislack, with the Oregon Health Authority, says the Clark County Measles outbreak highlights the need for children to be vaccinated, "It's contagious enough that it will find the few percentage of people out there, unless you have really high population-immunity rates." He says a growing number of Oregon parents choose not to vaccinate, "We are the highest in the nation, among kindergartners who are claiming exemptions to vaccination."
Families needing immunizations can contact their healthcare provider, county public health office or school-based health clinic. Click HERE for more information on Deschutes County locations.