Student vaccinations

Monday, January 6, 2020

By Diane Hettrick

A new law that took effect in Washington state on January 1, 2020 requires that students in public schools be current with all recommended vaccination paperwork on the first day of school.

A law passed in May 2019 removed personal and philosophical exemptions to the MMR vaccination (measles - mumps - rubella). It maintains religious exemptions but the parent needs to submit a form.

The Seattle School District is scrambling to comply and is planning to send students home starting January 8, 2020 if they lack the paperwork to prove they are current with their vaccinations. They have approximately 2300 students who are either not current or who have not provided the appropriate paperwork.

Number of students in Shoreline Public Schools who are out of compliance with vaccinations?

Zero.

"It's probably because we have a nurse in every school," said spokesperson Curtis Campbell.

Shoreline Schools also have at least half-time family support staff who can work with the nurses to provide families with information about free or low-cost vaccinations, and make sure that families who do not speak English at home understand the requirements.

A nurse at every school means that careful records are kept and follow up is done when needed. Seattle's problems were exacerbated by a change in the way nurses input data.

ICHS, which has large medical clinics in the International District and Bellevue, as well as Shoreline, is providing free vaccinations to students.

The law was prompted by the nationwide outbreak of measles, which first appeared in Clark County, Washington. Before that, it had been thought that measles was eradicated.

PBS has a fascinating article on the history of measles and vaccinations against it in this article.

Corrections and updates 1/9/2020

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