PORTLAND -- If you have children in school, you need to be aware of an important deadline. Wednesday, February 20th is exclusion day.
Students who aren’t up to date on immunizations could be sent home from school. It’s why Multnomah County held a clinic on Tuesday. Free shots were given to the uninsured.
Rosemary Rodriguez and her brother Sebastian were there for hepatitis shots. Their mother received a letter telling her the kids could be excluded from their Portland public school.
“I was kind of nervous and didn’t know where to go, but the school told me where to go,” said Mollie Rodriguez “Immunizations are important and I try to keep all eight of my kids up to date.”
Rodriguez is in the overwhelming majority of parents.
“Keep in mind (that) 90 percent of parents are vaccinating their kids, which is fantastic, but we’d like the number to be even higher,” said Dr. Mark Slifka, an OHSU vaccine researcher.
A lack of vaccinations kept less than one percent of students in Multnomah County from the classroom last year. Still, health officers noticed troubling trends.
“Our concern is that the rate of non-compliance is higher in the younger grades,” said Paul Lewis, a county health officer. “Eventually, across the whole system there’ll be a dangerous number of kids not immunized.”
Concern about vaccines causing autism has decreased according to the experts.
“Multiple studies from multiple countries have shown the connection just doesn’t pan out,” remarked Slifka. The latest unproven concern for parents he says is that a child’s immune system might be overloaded.
As a result, parents are spacing out the shots more.
“It’s always a concern when kids don’t get vaccinations at the recommended times, because you never know when the next outbreak will occur,” Slifka warned.
There’s another vaccination clinic offered by Multnomah County on Wednesday, February 20th at the East County Services clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.