POLK COUNTY -- The Oregon Immunization Program notes that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting today (Wednesday, Feb. 16) if their records on file show missing immunizations.
State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities be up-to-date on their immunizations, or have a religious or medical exemption.
"Immunization is a safe and effective way to keep the entire community healthy. We want to make sure children are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases," said Lorraine Duncan, immunization manager in the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division. "If school and child care shot records are not up-to-date, the child will be sent home."
Information for parents about updated vaccine requirements:
* Parents of children through age 4 should check to make sure their children's Hib immunizations are current. In recent years, there was a shortage of the Hib vaccine that protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b, a severe bacterial disease, so children weren't required to be up-to-date. Hib vaccine is now plentiful.
* Parents of adolescents should be aware that one dose of Tdap vaccine is required for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders. Tdap is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster.
* The Hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against a communicable viral infection, is a two-dose series required for children 18 months and older in child care, preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade.
In 2010, local health departments sent 35,965 letters to parents and guardians informing them that their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care. A total of 4,979 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the schools or child care facilities.
Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their health care provider or local health department, or call Oregon SafeNet at 1-800-SAFENET or 1-800-723-3638.
No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines.
Additional information on school immunizations can be found at the Immunization Program website at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/imm/school. Follow the Oregon Immunization Program on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OregonImmunize and Twitter at http://twitter.com/OregonImmunize.