The deadline to get students vaccinated for school is fast approaching.
Feb. 21 is School Exclusion Day, when children who have not received all required vaccinations and lack the necessary exemptions will no longer be allowed to attend public or private schools, preschools, Head Start or other child care programs until they either get vaccinated or are exempted.
The Oregon Health Authority said local health departments sent 29,932 letters in 2017 to parents and guardians whose children needed to update their immunizations in order to continue attending school. Jackson County's immunization coordinator, who sends out these letters to families, was not available Friday to provide information on how many letters had gone out in Jackson County.
Jackson Baures, division manager for Jackson County Public Health, said the department pays "close attention" to immunization rates in schools.
"(The requirement is) essentially to protect the health of the students, to protect the health of the community," he said.
The OHA on its website says it aims for at least a 95 percent vaccination rate among children.
"When a very high percentage of children are vaccinated in a school or child care, this reduces the chance of spreading the disease among vulnerable individuals," its immunization page says.
A full list of required vaccinations can be found at http://bit.ly/2uSwG5D. Parents are encouraged to contact their primary health care provider or pediatrician to schedule vaccinations. Jackson County Health and Human Services' Immunization Clinic for children up to 18 is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday (except Wednesdays, when the clinic opens at 9 a.m. due to training) at 140 S. Holly St., in Medford.
Oregon law requires health care clinics to provide children's immunizations regardless of a person's ability to pay.
Jackson County in the 2016-17 school year had one of the lowest immunization rates in Oregon, according to data from the OHA — it was one of only five counties to fall into the 89.1 to 91.2 percent range. Ashland School District reported a vaccination rate of 72.6 percent.