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Immunization 'exclusion day' is Wednesday

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Washington County's immunization rates are high, according to Matthew Town, public health program supervisor.

FILE PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Children in Oregon receive vaccinations for a wide array of childhood illnesses. The deadline for vaccinations is coming up next week.Wednesday is exclusion day for area schools. Any child without the required vaccinations or an exemption certificate will not be allowed to attend a public school or child care on or after that day.

Public health officials urge parents to take the annual exclusion day seriously. "Being up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect your children from diseases like measles, whooping cough and mumps," said Dr. Christina Baumann, deputy health director for Washington County. "By getting your kids vaccinated, you also are helping to protect the vulnerable among us, like babies and those with weakened immune systems who can't be immunized."

In Oregon, students are vaccinated against polio, varicella, measles, mumps/rubella and hepatitis A and B. Children also receive a "DTaP" or "Tdap" immunization, which defends against three diseases caused by bacteria: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Washington County's immunization rates are high, according to Matthew Town, public health program supervisor. Anywhere from 81 percent to 88 percent of students ages 19 months to 5 years old are immunized (depending on the specific shot). For children in Kindergarten through 12th-grade, the county's immunization rates range from 96 percent to 98 percent.

Final numbers haven't been tallied for this year but Town said the rates seem slightly down from 2016 and about even with 2015.

Not all parents believe in vaccinations, and each county in the state does outreach each year. "Washington County, like all counties in Oregon, have 'clusters' of vaccine hesitancy and are working to engage these groups surrounding education and access to services," Town said.

Rates vary from county to county. In 2016, the percentage of children age 13 to 17 with the "Tdap" immunization ranged from a low of 82.7 percent in Wheeler County to a high of 94.3 percent in Douglas County. Washington County saw an 89.8 percent immunization rate last year.

Beaverton High School had a case of whooping cough, or pertussis, in January. Parents received notice on Jan. 31. Whooping cough is an infection that spreads easily in groups, Baumann said in a letter to high school parents. The illness usually beings with cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or a cough, then becomes severe with violent episodes of coughing. Pertussis can last for weeks or months.

People seeking to immunize their children can see their health care provider; go to a school-based health center, or attend an immunization clinic.

The Southwest Community Health Center will hold an immunization clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 266 W. Main St. in Hillsboro. Vaccines for children ages birth through 18 will be available at no cost to those without insurance. Walk-ins are accepted, and people can schedule an appointment by calling 503-846-4418 (Línea en español: 503-977-0733, ext. 6).

The health center also will hold a clinic from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Appointments are required for this clinic.

In addition, the following school-based health centers will hold special immunization clinic days from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students 14 and younger need to have an adult present. Students 15 and older can go on their own, but I.D. is required. A $15 fee for the visit may be charged for uninsured clients; however, the school-based health center will work with families regarding payment options. Kaiser insurance is not accepted. Families should call ahead for an appointment or for more information.

n Tigard High School: Today for all students and children ages 0-5 in the Tigard-Tualatin School District and students in Sherwood School District. 503-431-5775

n Tualatin High School: Friday for all students and children ages 0-5 in the district and students in Sherwood School District. 503-431-5975

n Beaverton High School: Monday for all students in the Beaverton School District. 503-356-3985

n Century High School: Tuesday, Feb. 14, for all students in the Hillsboro School District. 503-844-2840

For additional information on where to get immunizations or other health care services, call the Washington County Health Care Resource Line at 503-846-8851.