Parents of children in Oregon schools must ensure students' immunization records are up to date by mid-February, or schools will begin sending children home.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, state law requires families to provide schools, preschools, and child care facilities with immunization records proving students received vaccines appropriate to their grade level.
If those records are not provided, schools will send an "exclusion notice" to families in late January or early February.
On February 19, schools will begin "excluding" students without the appropriate paperwork on file.
According to Stacy De Assis Matthews, school law coordinator for the Oregon Health Authority, there are two new immunization requirements in 2014.
- A TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) booster shot is now required for students in grades 7 through 12.
- And a 2-dose series Hepatitis A vaccine is required for students in child care through 5th grade.
Matthews said the Health Authority has been extending those vaccine requirements to an additional grade level every year since 2008.
If parents cannot bring students' immunizations up to date by February 19, families should file paperwork requesting an exemption. According to Matthews, exemptions are permitted on medical or religious grounds.
The following is the full news release from the Oregon Health Authority:
School Exclusion Day is Wednesday, February 19
Parents must provide schools and child care facilities with children's immunization records
The Oregon Immunization Program wants parents to know that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting Feb. 19 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 a religious or medical exemption.
"Immunization is an effective way to keep schools and the entire community healthy," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. "We want to make sure children are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough."
Information for parents about updated vaccine requirements:
- Parents of adolescents should be aware that one dose of Tdap vaccine is required for seventh- through 12th-graders. Tdap is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster.
- The hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against a communicable viral infection, is a two-dose series required for children 18 months and older in child care, preschool and kindergarten through fifth grade.
If school and child care vaccination records are not up-to-date, the child will be sent home. In 2013, local health departments sent 30,501 letters to parents and guardians informing them that their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care. A total of 4,188 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the schools or child care facilities.
Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their health care provider or local health department, or call Oregon SafeNet at 1-800-SAFENET or 1-800-723-3638. No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines. Pharmacists can immunize children age 11 and older. Parents should contact their neighborhood pharmacy for details.
Additional information on school immunizations can be found at the Immunization Program website at www.healthoregon.org/imm. Follow the Oregon Immunization Program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OregonImmunize and Twitter at twitter.com/OregonImmunize.