Parents reminded: vaccinations a must

SALEM -- The new year is here and the Oregon Immunization Program wants to remind parents that now is the time to make sure kids' vaccination records are complete and up to date.

SALEM -- The new year is here and the Oregon Immunization Program wants to remind parents that now is the time to make sure kids' vaccination records are complete and up to date.

State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities have up-to-date immunizations, or have a religious or medical exemption.

Parents or guardians will receive a letter in late January or early February if their child's immunization record shows that he or she has not received the required vaccinations. Children will not be able to attend school or child care starting Feb. 15 if their records on file show missing immunizations.

"We want to make sure children can go to school in a safe, healthy environment free from vaccine-preventable diseases," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, immunization school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division.

This year, parents should take note of some important information:

* Tdap vaccine requirement: Tdap vaccine is required for seventh- through 10th-graders. Tdap is a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster. Whooping cough is a serious health concern in Oregon with about 300 cases recorded in 2011.

* Hepatitis A vaccine requirement: The hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against a communicable viral infection, is a two-dose series now required for children 18 months through third grade.

Parents seeking immunizations for their children should contact their health care provider or local health department, or call Oregon SafeNet at 1-800-SAFENET or 1-800-723-3638. No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines. Additional information on school immunizations can be found on the Oregon Public Health website at http://1.usa.gov/OregonSchool.

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