© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wednesday Is ‘Exclusion Day,’ Oregon's Annual Deadline For School Vaccinations

Image of nurse injecting vaccine in girl's arm.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via Unsplash

Kids in Oregon might be sent home from school today. That’s if they’re not up-to-date on their vaccinations or if they don’t have a vaccine exemption. Known as “exclusion day” February 19, 2020 is the deadline for vaccinations for all children in Oregon in childcare, pre-school, Head Start, and public and private schools, grades K-12.

“The annual exclusion day is to make sure that kids have at least once a year a chance to be updated on their immunizations,” says Stacy de Assis Matthews, the immunization school law coordinator with the Oregon Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority.

Exclusion day applies to the 11 different vaccine-preventable diseases required for children in Oregon, depending on their age. De Assis Matthews says just over 4,000 children, less than 1%, were sent home from school last year for not being up-to-date.  

“This year’s deadline and the immunization reminders are especially relevant because we did see cases of measles in the Northwest last year,” de Assis Matthews says. “Immunizations are the most effective way to stop the spread of measles and to keep kids safe and school communities healthy.”

Oregon Health Authority data shows numerous schools in Southern Oregon with student populations well below the 95% threshold that public health officials say is needed to prevent the spread of a very contagious disease like measles. Some schools have as little as 31% of all required vaccinations, including the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.

State health officials permit two types of exemptions to the immunization requirements. Medical exemptions are allowed for children with weakened immune systems that prevent them from being safely vaccinated. Medical exemptions require a letter from a physician.

Parents who have strongly held beliefs against vaccines can get a non-medical exemption to immunizations for their children. Non-medical exemptions require parents to first watch an online vaccine education module or to speak with a health care provider.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.