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Seattle district begins to exclude students without complete vaccination records

Jan. 8, 2020
As of Wednesday morning, 565 students hadn't provided the required paperwork.

The Seattle school district has begun to bar students from attending classes if they lacked complete vaccination records.

The Seattle Times reports that as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, 565 students in the district didn’t have paperwork on file with their schools showing their vaccinations, immunity to certain illnesses or exemption from vaccines.

Students who show up without proper records are being put in a room supervised by staff until parents are notified and pick them up.

School nurses and staff bombarded parents with pop-up ads on school websites, emails, text messages, phone calls — even an old-fashioned letter in the mail — in the days and weeks leading up to this deadline.

Public school students in Washington state are required to prove their immunity to several illnesses or receive shots and boosters for these conditions, which include the combined tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine (Tdap), chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio and the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).

Families had been able to claim certain exemptions from this requirement, but after a large measles outbreak in Washington state last year, legislators passed a law that prevents families from declaring a personal or philosophical exemption from the MMR vaccine. Families can claim a medical or religious exemption.

Some parents, such as Abby Watts, were thrilled to hear that school officials are enforcing the state’s vaccination laws.

“If you want everyone to have had (a) vaccination, then you have to be good on your word and enforce it,” says Watts, who has three children, including two sons who attend Cascadia Elementary School.

Families can schedule a vaccination appointment with their doctor or at one of King County’s school-based health centers, including several within Seattle public schools.

Going forward, school officials say they intend to take extra steps to notify families of students whose records are missing. This school year, district officials reached out to 7,000 such families just a few weeks before school started.

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