Parents: stay updated on childhood immunizations

Parents: stay updated on childhood immunizations
Posted on 09/11/2018
Lane County Public Health (LCPH) is urging parents to stay up to date with their children’s immunizations. As students head back to the classroom, the risk of contracting and spreading a communicable disease is increased. By staying up to date on vaccinations, parents help prevent their children from becoming ill, as well as control the spread of disease throughout the community. 

“Vaccination is one of the few truly protective, scientifically proven tools we have available to help protect our communities from large-scale outbreaks,” said Lane County Senior Public Health Officer Patrick Luedtke, MD.  “Our ability to use that tool, however, is directly dependent on the willingness of Lane County residents to vaccinate themselves, and their families.” 

Oregon state law requires that all school-age, and some pre-school age, children have completed a series of vaccinations or submit a medical or nonmedical exemption. Every year in January, LCPH checks all of those records and sends letters to families whose children are not up-to-date on their vaccinations. If those families have not either caught their children up on their vaccinations or completed the steps necessary to exempt by February 20th, the children will not be able to attend school.

“I am a parent myself and on one hand I feel a responsibility to protect our community by making sure my kids are vaccinated,” added Luedtke, “but on a more practical note, by vaccinating now I save the headache of scrambling to do it mid-year and I always advise the parents I see to do the same.”

The impact of not vaccinating can reach beyond schools and affect the community at large. Parents who cannot vaccinate their children or themselves due to medical reasons must rely on those who can for protection from these diseases. Low vaccination rates can lead to outbreaks, such as the pertussis, commonly referred to as “whooping cough,” outbreak in Lane County with over 250 cases to date in 50 schools. These outbreaks are not only costly for the community; they also expose some of our most vulnerable community members to potentially dangerous diseases.

LCPH aims to prevent these illnesses through its communicable disease immunization program.  Immunizations for infants, children, adolescents and adults are provided. No one will be turned away because of inability to pay for necessary vaccines. You can find more information about Lane County Public Health’s Immunization Program here