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Oregon Immunization Program reminds parents children must be up to date on immunizations by Feb. 20.

Feb. 20 is School Exclusion Day, and the Oregon Immunization Program is reminding parents that children will not be able to attend school or child care starting that day if their records on file show missing immunizations.

Under state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities must have up-to-date documentation on their immunizations, or have an exemption.

"This year's School Exclusion Day reminder has taken on added urgency as the Pacific Northwest confronts the worst preventable measles outbreak in more than two decades," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. "Immunizations are the most effective way to stop the spread of measles and other communicable diseases that put children and others at risk."

If school and child care vaccination records are not up to date on Feb. 20, the child will be sent home. In 2018, local health departments sent 24,725 letters to parents and guardians informing them that their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care.

A total of 4,349 children were kept out of school or child care until the necessary immunization information was turned in to the schools or child care facilities. This year, letters to parents were mailed on or before Feb. 6.

Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their health care provider or local health department, or call 211Info — just dial 211 or go to 211info.org. No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines. Many pharmacists can immunize children 7 and older; contact your neighborhood pharmacy for details.

Additional information on school immunizations can be found at the immunization program website at www.healthoregon.org/imm. Follow the Oregon Immunization Program on Facebook.

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