As many as 799 students have been kept out of school on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2020 because they don’t have the proper vaccination paperwork.
Students were kept home as a result of a law change enacted by Washington State Legislators in May of 2019. The new law, which applies to both public and private schools, eliminates the personal and philosophical exemption for children regarding the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine required for school. Essentially, students who do not have a religious or medical exemption to the MMR vaccination will no longer be allowed to attend class without proof of vaccination. According to Seattle Public Schools officials, more than 2,200 warning letters were sent to students alerting them they would be kept out of school if they did not comply with the new regulations. In an effort to help compliance, the district has hosted a series of free vaccination clinics.
This law was introduced as a response to two measles outbreaks in 2019, which yielded in more people being sick in Washington in a single year since 1990, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Samara Hoag, health service manager at Seattle Public Schools, said “It’s very important for a safe, healthy learning environment for our students, some of whom have compromised immune systems, or they are very delicate in their health… It’s also important for our staff, and of course, it’s also part of the law.”
Students who went to school on the 8th and who will continue to try to attend school without the proof of being properly vaccinated will not be allowed to attend class and will be subsequently directed to a waiting area until a parent or guardian can pick them up. For students that have yet to be vaccinated, they will still be allowed into the school if they can provide proof of an upcoming vaccination appointment.
As a note, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1,282 cases of measles in the United States in 2019, the worst year for this infectious disease since 1992. The global statistics were no better in 2019, with large outbreaks in various regions around the globe, and more than 400,000 measles cases being reported to the World Health Organizations as of November.