DHS news release
Feb. 8, 2006
Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (971) 673-1282
Technical contact: Amanda Timmons (971) 673-0312
Governor Kulongoski and DHS remind parents of Feb. 15 child immunization deadline
Governor Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon Department of Human Services today reminded parents that the deadline for immunizations for school-age children is Wednesday, Feb. 15. Under state law, on Feb. 15, children who do not have the appropriate immunizations -- or the appropriate medical or religious exemptions -- may not attend school until their immunizations are up-to-date. This school exclusion law applies to all public and private k-12 schools, pre-schools, Head Start and certified child care facilities.
"We know that healthy kids learn better and that means making sure that our children have the immunizations they need to stay healthy -- and stay in school," Gov. Kulongoski said. "That's why the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is working with local health departments and school districts to educate parents about the law so they can update their child's records or make sure that their child receives the immunizations they need to stay healthy and in school."
The governor encouraged parents to confirm that their personal records match their child's school or daycare records, and if they do not, to schedule an appointment with their family physician. If a family does not have private health insurance, the governor advised parents to take their child to the county health clinic or to call the state toll-free number (Oregon SafeNet) for information about accessing immunizations for their child: 1 (800) SAFENET or 1 (800) 723-3638.
"Our primary focus is on ensuring children are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases," said Lorraine Duncan, DHS immunization manager. "Last year, Oregon recorded more than 560 cases of whooping cough -- illnesses that could have been prevented."
If a child's records do not indicate appropriate immunizations, an "exclusion order" is issued until the parents can produce documentation that their child received the required immunization.
Many children receive exclusion orders because their school or day care records have not been updated, even though they may have received all their shots.
While schools and child-care staff keep records current through the statewide registry, called the Oregon Immunization ALERT, DHS reminded parents that some information is only available from them and joined the governor in encouraging parents to double check to make sure their personal records match those of their child's school or daycare center.
Approximately 39,000 exclusion orders have already been sent to parents throughout Oregon informing them that children are lacking shots. Last year, 39,704 exclusion orders were issued and 7,817 children were kept out of school until they could provide documentation that they had received required immunizations.
"Vaccination against childhood diseases is one of the great public health success stories of the past hundred years and one of the most cost-effective preventive measures we have," Duncan said. "It takes a combined effort to make sure kids have all their shots and don't miss school. DHS provides technical help, but it's the hard work and dedication of health departments, schools and facilities that really make this process work."