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DHS news release

Feb. 11, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contact: Amanda Timmons (503) 731-4564

Parents reminded to get children immunized, school exclusion day looms

Public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services are reminding parents, be sure your children have all their shots so they don’t risk being sent home from school on exclusion day.

"Immunizations protect children against diseases that can cause serious illness or permanent injury," said Lorraine Duncan, immunization program manager in DHS. "It’s especially important for school-age kids to be fully vaccinated because disease is easily spread in school settings."

On Wednesday, Feb. 18, children whose school or day care records show they are missing shots and who do not have an appropriate medical or religious exemption will be sent home. They cannot return until their immunization records are updated.

In Multnomah County, school exclusion day for public schools has been postponed until Feb. 25 this year, but that will not affect the rest of the state, according to Duncan.

Last year, a record 44,269 exclusion orders were issued in Oregon. Duncan attributes the high number to a prior temporary suspension of the tetanus-diphtheria and chickenpox requirement following a national vaccine shortage.

"Last year, 91 percent of children had complete immunization records," Duncan said. "We believe we can do better this year."

Duncan said that approximately 44,000 letters have been sent to parents throughout the state, informing them that their children are lacking shots. School exclusion applies to all public and private schools, pre-schools, Head Start and certified day care facilities.

Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their private provider, county health clinic or call Oregon SafeNet at 1 (800) SAFENET or 1 (800) 723-3638.

Additional information about immunizations is available on the Web.