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Deadline nearing for parents to show proof of students' shots.

Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard

Oregon parents have less than two weeks to get their children's immunizations up to date and get proof to their schools, preschools and day care centers.

Without records, children may not be allowed back in school on "exclusion day," Feb. 18, unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

Warning letters have gone out to the parents and guardians of students whose records are incomplete. Lorraine Duncan, immunization program manager for the Oregon Department of Human Services, said she won't have statewide numbers until later this month, but last year 44,269 such letters went out.

On exclusion day last year, 8,807 children were sent home, up from 8,263 the previous year. Of those, 667 were in Lane County.

In Lane County, 2,890 letters went out last week, about 350 fewer than last year, said Toni Brown, immunization review coordinator. She attributed the decline to improvements to a statewide immunization database that allows schools, day care centers and doctors' offices to tap into vaccine information through billing records. She was able to scratch dozens of students off the list herself by accessing their records through the database, called Immunization Alert.

"If you have a child who's been immunized in Oregon, there's a good chance (records) are in Alert," she said.

On the other hand, Duncan said, numbers took a big jump last year and may stay higher than they otherwise would be until the state has phased in new requirements for seventh-graders for chicken pox, hepatitis B and booster measles shots.

The state requires children to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Children younger than 5 also must be vaccinated against Haemophilus influenza type B. Flu shots are not required.

About 2.7 percent of Oregon students have a religious or medical exemption - a little higher than most states. Parents can claim a religious exemption if they have beliefs, practices or ethical values that clash with vaccinations.

IMMUNIZATIONS

Children can be immunized at their regular doctor's office or through their school-based health center.

Lane County Public Health: 135 E. Sixth Ave., offers walk-in immunization clinics every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Call 682-4041 for more information.
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 10, 2004
Words:373
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