Hood River Public Health mailed out 375 letters to parents in the county on Feb. 2, advising them that their child may be excluded from school beginning Feb. 16 if immunization records are not up to date for their children.
The Oregon Immunization Program and local public health officials want parents to know that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting Feb. 16 if their records on file show missing immunizations, or do not have proper documentation for religious or medical waivers.
According to Hood River Public Health Nursing Supervisor Trish Elliott, local school principals and operators of day care facilities and preschools received copies of the letters sent out.
"Children will be held at their school's offices for pick-up and kept home until their immunizations are completed," said Elliott.
Immunizations are available at most primary care provider offices in Hood River County. The public health office also provides immunizations through its walk-in service.
"For qualifying children, there are several programs which cover the cost of vaccines," said Elliott. "Immunizations prevent the spread of communicable diseases. School children are in close proximity to each other and we want to make sure our schools are as healthy as possible."
State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities be up-to-date on their immunizations, or have a documented religious or medical exemption.
"This will be enforced," said Elliott. "Most people do comply with the letters right away, but occasionally we have a few who miss a few hours of school until it is taken care of."
The Hood River County Public Health Department is located at 1109 June St. and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. No appointment is necessary for immunizations. No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines.
Beginning Jan 1, 2011, pharmacists are now able to immunize children age 11 and older. Parents should contact their neighborhood pharmacy for details.
Information for parents about updated vaccine requirements:
• Parents of children through age 4 should check to make sure their children's Hib immunizations are current. In recent years, there was a shortage of the Hib vaccine that protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B, a severe bacterial disease, so children weren't required to be up-to-date - but Hib vaccine is now plentiful.
• Parents of adolescents should be aware that one dose of Tdap vaccine is required for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders. Tdap is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster.
• The Hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against a communicable viral infection, is a two-dose series required for children 18 months and older in child care, preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade.
• Additional information on school immunizations can be found at the Immunization Program website at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/imm/school.