'Exclusion Day' coming up, kids need their shots

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Officials say the annual Exclusion Day is fast approaching, and kids without the proper documents showing they are up to date on vaccines, could be held out of school or daycare.

The date set for this year's exclusion is set for February 20.

State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities have up-to-date documentation on their immunizations, or have a religious or medical exemption.

"Immunization is an effective way to keep schools and the entire community healthy. We want to make sure children are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division. "If school and child care vaccination records are not up to date, the child will be sent home."

There have been some updates to the requirements, such as seventh through 11th graders needing a Tdap vaccine. Tdap is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster. Children 18 months and older in child care, preschool and kindergarten through fourth grade, require a two-dose series of the hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against a communicable viral infection.

Last year almost 35,000 letters were sent to parents about missing documentation and around 4,600 kids were excluded from school until the paperwork was turned in.

Officials say if parents have questions about vaccinations they should contact their primary care doctor or local health department. They can also call Oregon SafeNet at 1-800-SAFENET (1-800-723-3638) or 211.

Authorities say nobody can be turned away from a local health department because they can't pay, and pharmacists can immunize kids over age 11.