Pushing for students to get vaccinated before 'Exclusion Day'
LANE COUNTY, Ore. - Exclusion Day is just a few weeks away, and the time before the deadline for students to get required vaccination in order to go to school is running out.
According to Lane County Public Health, most students get their vaccinations in time, but they still would like to see that number be higher.
Last year, 93.7 percent of K-12 students in Lane County had their required vaccinations, basked on data from the State Health Department. However, Public Health Officials tell us that that number is not quite high enough to prevent outbreaks.
A big stack of letters is on its way out to parents of kids who are missing shots or immunization records. Last year, Lane County Public Health sent over 2,000 letters, remind families that it's the state law to get your child vaccinated.
Students are required to be vaccinated against diseases like Measles, Mumps, Hepatitis A and B, to name a few.
"We know that for certain vaccines, we need to have a certain percent of a vaccinated population in order to prevent outbreaks," said Cindy Morgan, the Communicable Disease Supervisor for Lane County.
Morgan says that the goal is a student vaccination rate of 94-96 percent in order to protect everyone.
"Outbreaks are less likely to happen across our entire community, not just those populations that are vaccinated," said Morgan.
But in Lane County, the numbers lie just short of that goal, sitting at 93.7 percent last year.
Oregon Health Authority maps the data, and most schools have high vaccination rates marked by yellow dots, but red dots show schools where less than 80 percent of students are vaccinated.
Those who aren't either have a medical reason, or their parents can choose to opt out after talking to a doctor or taking an online course.
"They must have a certificate that says they've been educated about the benefits and risks of vaccines," said Morgan.
The vaccination rate remains fairly constant from year to year, and we won't know until after Exclusion Day what this year's rate is.
However, Morgan says that thanks to public outreach by the schools, she thinks they'll be sending out fewer letters this time around.
Letters go out to the parents on Wednesday. To check your child's school vaccination rate, you can find the map here.
The last day to get vaccinated, or have an exemption, is on February 21st.