Summer is winding down and it’s time to gear up for a new school year. That means more kids coming in for vaccines. What do you need to know about immunizations for back to school this year?
- Old religious exemptions to immunization signed prior to March 2014 are no longer valid. Senate bill 895 removed the provision that allowed old religious exemptions that were in place before the implementation of the new nonmedical exemption process. This is a great opportunity to discuss vaccines with parents who claimed an exemption for their child years ago. Parents will have two options:
- If the child has received the vaccines, the parent needs to fill in the vaccine dates on the Certificate of Immunization Status, sign the form and turn it into the school.
- If the parent wants a nonmedical exemption for their child, they need to get education about the benefits and risks of immunization from a health care practitioner or the online vaccine education module. If you are a health care practitioner and provide education to the parent, print off and complete the Vaccine Education Certificate available at healthoregon.org/vaccineexemption (go to the “For Providers Only” section at the bottom of the page). Mark “yes” next to each vaccine you provided education about for which the parent wants to claim an exemption. The online vaccine education module is also available at the same web address.
- Remind parents to update immunization records with their child’s school or daycare every time their child receives a vaccine.
- Make sure to screen for and give all recommended vaccines when you give school-required vaccines. When a student comes in for Tdap vaccine, give HPV and meningococcal vaccines as well. Adolescents can be a hard population to reach, and you might not see the patient again for several years. And don’t forget about flu vaccine!
Update from the 2014-2015 school year
For the first time in more than a decade, Oregon’s nonmedical exemption rate decreased: 5.8% of kindergartners had a nonmedical exemption to one or more vaccine in 2015 compared to 7.0% in 2014. Check out the graph above to see the nonmedical exemption rate over time. Thank you to clinics, schools and child care programs for helping to implement the new process for claiming a nonmedical exemption, and helping protect more kids against vaccine preventable diseases!