The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday reminded parents that need to make sure their child’s school or child care center has up-to-date vaccine records by Feb. 17 or their children cannot continue attending.
According to an agency press release, under state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities must have up-to-date documentation on immunizations or have an exemption on file or the child will be sent home.
There are some new changes to the vaccination requirements this year: the state is now requiring a two-dose hepatitis A vaccine for children 18 months and older. The state is also requiring parents with children who have vaccine exemptions on file from before March of 2014 to submit updated documentation. Parents of children who have since received vaccinations will need to submit those vaccination records and parents who want a non-medical exclusion must turn in a Vaccine Education Certificate showing that they’ve received education about vaccines, either from a health care practitioner or from the online vaccine education module.
More information about exemptions can be found at the division’s vaccine exemption website at www.healthoregon.org/vaccineexemption.
Charlie Fautin, of the Benton County Health Department, said this year the department has sent out 530 letters to local parents warning them of potential exclusion, up from 394 last year. But Fautin said the increase in letters is due to staffing limitations meaning that their records are not as cleaned up in the past.
“That means that it’s possible that more parents will receive letters for kids who are actually vaccinated but for whom there is some error in the record. We apologize for that, but again if parents feel the letter is erroneous they should provide the child’s most current records to the school to update the database,” he said.
Foutin said each year only a small percentage of kids with letters are actually excluded.
“That’s because the vast majority of parents get their kids vaccinated as soon as they get their letter, then get those records to their school so the kids won’t be excluded,” he said. “In addition, a percentage of notification letters are incorrect either because parents have not updated the school immunization records during the year and so the school has classified the kid as under-immunized when in fact they are not. In either case, it’s important that parents provide schools with current and up-to-date records.”