Health officials today sent out about 5,000 exclusion orders to families in Multnomah County to notify them that their children can only stay in school if they are up-to-date on their immunizations or present an exemption by Feb. 20.
State law requires children attending schools, preschools, and childcare centers to be immunized or get an exemption for medical or nonmedical reasons. Approximately 123,000 children and students in Multnomah County must meet those requirements. The letters, mailed Feb. 6, are the final notice to parents of children in public school, kindergartens, private schools, pre-schools, Head Start programs, and daycares.
“We want schools and child care facilities to be safe and healthy learning environments so it is important to get children and students up-to-date as soon as possible,” said Virginia Schmitz, community immunization program manager with Multnomah County Communicable Disease Services.
This year’s school exclusion deadline comes as the region faces a measles outbreak that has sickened 51 people in the Portland-Vancouver area, including 47 children and teens.
“Unfortunately this is a reminder of how quickly infections can spread when people are not vaccinated, and that’s especially true in places like classrooms where kids spend a lot of time together,” said Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “I strongly encourage parents to learn more about measles and the very effective vaccine that can protect their kids.”
Parents are encouraged to take the exclusion order and their kids to their primary care provider to get the necessary immunizations. For families who are under-insured or who lack health insurance, Multnomah County offers low and no-cost immunization options. No one is turned away because of an inability to pay. Help is available at:
Student Health Centers: These 10 Multnomah County primary care clinics are located in schools, where any child in grades kindergarten through 12th grade can get care at no out-of-pocket cost.
Community Immunization Clinic: Multnomah County’s downtown clinic offers many low-cost vaccinations.
Primary Care Clinics: Multnomah County provides low-cost health care at seven clinics to any county residents, including those who are low-income and uninsured.
"The cost of accessing medical care shouldn't stand between a child and their ability to attend school," said Keri Barnett, Student Health Center nursing supervisor. "That's why there is never an out-of-pocket cost for any medical services at Student Health Centers, including immunizations. We're here to help all Multnomah County youth stay healthy and ready to learn."
Multnomah County will also hold two pop-up immunization clinics for children to catch up on their vaccinations before the Feb. 20 school exclusion date. Families should expect to spend about three hours, as the clinics can get busy:
Saturday, Feb. 16: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., South Boardroom, David Douglas High School, 1500 SE 130th Ave., Portland
Wednesday, Feb. 20: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 2nd floor, East County Health Center, 600 NE 8th St., Gresham.
Check www.mchealth.org for updates on weather-related clinic schedule changes