Multnomah County Public Health has extended the deadline for school exclusion, allowing families until April 20 to make sure their children have their required vaccinations or proof of a non-medical exemption to avoid being excluded from school.
State law requires that all children in schools, preschools and child care facilities have current records of immunization. It’s the most effective way to protect children from preventable diseases such as whooping cough, mumps and measles.
Each year ahead of the deadline health departments across the state send out letters to families with children whose vaccination records are incomplete. This year, to accommodate challenges to vaccine access and medical staff storages posed by the pandemic, the Oregon Health Authority allowed local health departments to delay immunization reporting and exclusion deadlines.
Multnomah County delayed its deadline by two months, from Feb. 16 to April 20.
“We know that the pandemic has created challenges for families in terms of routine vaccine access,” Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey said in a letter to healthcare providers and schools.”
Early on, the pandemic caused medical practices to postpone or cancel well-child visits. More recently, staffing shortages and increased focus on COVID-19 vaccines have led to limited access for pediatric vaccine appointments.
“We hope giving families additional time to access vaccines will help children to stay in school,” Guernsey said. “We also know that schools are currently inundated with managing through COVID-19, so we hope this decision offers some relief.”
Families with health insurance are encouraged to seek vaccinations from their regular medical providers.
Children ages 5 to 18 can get vaccinations and primary care for no out-of-pocket cost at any of Multnomah County’s 9 Student Health Centers, which are located in high schools.
Public Health will host weekly vaccination clinics for children ages 5 to 11 beginning in late February. Stay tuned for more. And remember these key dates:
- February 9: Exclusion orders mailed to families of children in preschools, child care, and private schools.
- March 2: Exclusion orders will be mailed to families of children in public and charter schools.
- April 20: Exclusion Day. Children still out of compliance will not be allowed to attend school in person.
Don’t wait. Protect your kids today
About 100,000 children in Multnomah County must meet school immunization requirements this year.
Of all school-aged children in the county, a very small percent will obtain a medical or non-medical exemption. Research shows that areas with higher concentrations of nonmedical exemptions report higher rates of preventable disease outbreaks.
Parents who don’t want their children immunized can obtain a non-medical exemption after learning about the risks, benefits and myths of vaccinations either by watching an online video or talking to their child’s doctor.
Resources and Research
- Student Health Centers: These clinics are based in schools, where any child ages 5 to 18 can get care at no out-of-pocket cost.
- Primary Care Clinics: Multnomah County health centers offer primary care to anyone, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
- Vaccine Safety: Centers for Disease Control information on vaccines, including interesting graphics on state-by-state requirements.
- History of Vaccines: College of Physicians of Philadelphia