PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon health officials are reminding parents that their children will not be able to attend school or child care without updated immunization records this month.
February 19 is "School Exclusion Day," when proof of vaccinations must be provided in order to keep children from being kept home. Under state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start, and all certified child care facilities must have either up-to-date immunizations or an exemption.
Today we're kicking off a week-long series about why Oregonians are choosing to vaccinate: https://t.co/Fgxx8ytONm Stay tuned to hear their powerful personal stories. We also invite you to share why you vaccinate by using the hashtag #ORVaccinates on social media. #VaccinesWork— OR Health Authority (@OHAOregon) February 5, 2020
“Immunization is the best way to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles,” said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Public Health Division. “It helps keep schools and the entire community safe and healthy.”
While some children cannot receive immunizations for medical reasons and are thus exempt, parents in Oregon may still seek a non-medical exemption through several different methods.
Following a measles outbreak last year that spanned Oregon and Washington, state lawmakers tried to pass a bill to end non-medical exemptions. Despite initial success, the bill fizzled after a walkout by Republican senators as part of an agreement to secure their return and a vote on the Student Success Act.
In 2019, local health departments sent 22,547 letters to parents and guardians informing them that their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care, OHA said. More than 4,000 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the schools or child care facilities.
This year, letters to parents were mailed on or before February 5.
Parents seeking immunizations for their children can contact their health care provider, a local health department, or call 211Info — just dial 211 or go to 211info.org. No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines. Many pharmacists can also immunize children age 7 and older.