Vaccine exclusion day across the state was Feb. 15, 2023. This is the day students must either be up to date on all vaccinations or have exemptions, or they cannot attend school.
"When children aren't vaccinated for these diseases they're much more susceptible to them," said Helen Bicart, who administers and manages vaccinations at Jefferson County Public Health. "It keeps the rest of us safe. Measles can cause death, you can get liver damage from things like Hepatitis, there's all kinds of medical consequences."
In Jefferson County, 131 exclusion letters were mailed to families, 19 students were excluded after the Feb. 15 deadline, and 15 students have since returned to school after receiving vaccinations, obtaining exemptions, or moving to online school.
Jefferson County’s exclusion rate was 15% of students, compared to a statewide rate of 20%. Students most frequently needed Tdap (Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis), Hepatitis A and Measles vaccines.
Of the students excluded, nine returned to school after updating immunizations, five obtained non-medical exemptions, four have not returned to school, and one transferred to online school.
"Largely we see kids that are behind in vaccines, or are transfering records from another state or country," said Bicart.
These numbers reflect a return to pre-covid numbers. In 2020, 11 students were excluded. In 2022, 50 students were excluded.
"It largely had to do with COVID and people not going out, not going to their doctor," said Bicart. "Children's vaccines fell to the wayside, but I'm glad to see it's returning to our normal rate."
The Oregon Health Authority offers two types of exemptions to immunization requirements, medical and non-medical. Medical exemptions come directly from physician recommendations. Non-medical exemptions come after completing some form of vaccine education, either through an online module or with a health care provider. Non-medical exemptions do not cover the COVID-19 vaccine.
Childhood vaccinations are available at Jefferson County Public Health at 500 NE A St from Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They also take walk-in appointments.
"We don't want to miss any opportunity to give vaccines," said Bicart.