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    Oregon Sends Home Students Lacking Immunizations

    Oregon has increased it immunization efforts by sending home from school children who don't have the required immunizations.

    The effort was part of "School Exclusion Day," which was held February 21, 2018. School-age children who were not current on their vaccinations according to the records on file, were sent home from school or from childcare.

    Oregon law requires that children must have the appropriate shots to attend school or childcare, according to the Oregon Health Authority. These requirements include diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); polio; varicella; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), hepatitis B, and hepatitis A vaccines for children entering kindergarten through sixth grade.

    Parents of children who weren't current for the vaccines required for their child's age were sent a letter at home two weeks prior to the state's exclusion day.

    According to an article in the Independent, in 2017 more than 4,000 students were required to stay home after more than 30,000 letters had been sent out. It's unclear how many children were affected this year by the policy.

    There are some exceptions to the vaccination policy. Oregon allows both medical and nonmedical exceptions. According to the Oregon Health Authority, nonmedical exemptions can be received for personal, religious, or philosophical reasons. Prior to getting a nonmedical exemption, however, parents must watch an online education module and submit a certificate of completion. For a medical exemption, they must submit a certificate from a healthcare provider.

    Despite the state's efforts to increase immunizations, some students still lack the necessary vaccinations. According to a recent analysis done by The Oregonian/OregonLive nearly 65% of the state's public charter schools lack herd immunity against the measles. Some of the traditional public schools in the state fall into the same category.

    "The risk worries health officials. Measles is highly contagious, potentially fatal, and has made a resurgence in recent years," writes Lynne Terry in an article in The Oregonian explaining the analysis. The article states that historically Oregon has had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

    Data from the CDC found that 6.7% of children enrolled in kindergarten during the 2016-2017 school year had a reported exemption from vaccination.

    Jill Sederstrom
    Jill Sederstrom is a Contributing Editor


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