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DHS news release

 

Feb. 13, 2008

 

General contact:   Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282

Technical contact:   Stacy de Assis Matthews, 971-673-0528

 

Parents reminded to get kids immunized by Feb. 20

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Public health officials are advising parents that, starting Feb. 20, children won’t be able to go to school or child care if their records show they are missing immunizations.

 

State law requires that all children in public and private schools, pre-schools, Head Start and certified child care facilities be up-to-date on their immunizations, or have a religious or medical exemption. 

 

“The goal is to make sure children are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Lorraine Duncan, immunization manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division. “If school and child care shot records are not up-to-date, the child will be sent home.”

 

Last year, local health departments sent 23,182 letters to parents informing them their children needed immunizations to stay in school. A total of 3,344 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the school or child care facility.

 

Duncan said the number of children excluded from school or child care has been dropping statewide since 2004. No new immunization requirements have been added in the past several years, and parents, schools, child care and health care providers are becoming more aware of the immunization requirements. 

 

However, Duncan noted, next year the number of exclusion letters likely will increase because two more vaccines will be required. Starting this fall, one dose of Hepatitis A vaccine will be needed for children to begin kindergarten, preschool and child care. A second dose of Hepatitis A vaccine also is required and should be given six months after the first dose. One dose of Tdap vaccine will be required for 7th graders. Tdap is a tetanus and diphtheria booster that also protects against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

 

Many children receive exclusion letters because their school or day care records are not updated, even though they may have all of their shots. School and child care staff may use Oregon Immunization ALERT, the statewide registry, to keep records current, but parents are responsible for ensuring the school or day care has the required information. Duncan advises parents to update their child’s immunization record at school or child care after every shot.

 

“Vaccination against childhood diseases is one of the most cost-effective preventive measures we have,” Duncan said. “Making sure kids have all their shots and don’t miss school is a joint effort. DHS provides technical help, but it’s the hard work and dedication of health departments, schools and facilities that really make this process work.”

 

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