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Back-to-school shots: A look at Valley school vaccination rules

School starts next week, but before Snoqualmie Valley School District students can walk their school halls, they have a last bit of homework to finish.

All students are required to have proof of nine required immunizations by the first day of school, per the Washington Department of Health policy, or to get an exemption from them.

Exemption, which is just the OK to not get a particular vaccination, doesn’t necessarily mean families can skip the trip to the doctor, though. The state requires families requesting an exemption, whether for medical, religious or personal reasons, to meet with a medical professional and get information on the implications of not having the shots.

“A doctor must sign off to ensure the family understands the risks,” said district nurse Margie Blackmon.

What are the risks?

Mainly, children could come down with whatever diseases they aren’t immunized for. If they do, they can’t go to school.

“If there’s an outbreak, they would be excluded from school,” said Lonnie Peterson, Immunization Health Promotion Supervisor with the Department of Health. In general, though, “if they have an exemption, they can be in school just like any other kid.”

Roughly 10 percent of families in the Snoqualmie Valley School District request exemptions for their children each year, according to Department of Health reports. The range was, like the King County average for each school year, 5 to 10 percent for 2010-11 and 2011-12, and 6 to 9 percent for 2012-13. In the past school year, 7.1 percent of the district’s sixth graders, and 5.2 percent of Kindergarteners were exempt. The King County average was 2 to 5 percent.

Required immunizations for public school students in grades K-12 include Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio and Varicella, or chicken pox.

For information on school vaccinations, visit the school district’s Health Services page, www.svsd410.org/Page/189.

 

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