Students must be vaccinated by February 17; parents seek exemptions

Students must be vaccinated by February 17; parents seek exemptions
Posted on 02/01/2016



EUGENE, Ore. - School Exclusion Day is coming up February 17.


That's the deadline for students to be up to date on their immunizations or face exclusion from school or child care.


Parents can also seek a medical or non-medical exemption to one or more of the required vaccines.


Lane County Public Health is sending out letters Tuesday alerting parents of children whose immunizations are not up to date.


"At that point, they will be required to either A. Get up to date on their immunizations, or B. Go through the process of becoming exempt," said Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health.


There are two types of immunization exemptions.


The first is a medical exemption, in which a doctor writes a note explaining that the child can not receive a vaccine.


The other type is a non-medical exemption, when parents choose not to vaccinate their children for religious or philosophical reasons.


Last year, Lane County Public Health sent out 2,200 letters ahead of exemption day.


This year, they expect to send far more, due to a new law that makes it more difficult for parents to claim non-medical exemptions.


Davis said that in the past parents could simply check a box claiming an exemption. Now they're required to talk to a doctor to become educated about the risks of exemption.


"Or they need to take an online educational module that is available through the Oregon Health Authority, and once they have completed that will signify they understand completely their decision and they can exempt out of immunizations for their child," Davis said.


Davis hopes the new requirements will lead to fewer parents claiming non-medical exemptions.


Currently there are 52,500 students in Lane County.


In 2014, Lane County Public Health sent out 2,400 letters to parents whose children needed vaccinations prior to school exclusion day. That year 3,219 students claimed non-medical exemptions.


In 2015, Lane County Public health sent out 2,200 letters, and 2,922 students claimed non-medical exemptions.

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