Seattle Schoolchildren Can’t Go Back To Class Unless They Get Vaccinated

by Julie Scagell
Daniel Chetroni / Getty

Seattle students cannot return to school until their immunization records are updated

Seattle public school kids have until January 8 to get vaccinated and their records updated or they cannot return to school, according to an announcement by the city’s school system.

“Students who are out of compliance with the Washington state immunization law on Wednesday, January 8, will be excluded from attending school,” Seattle Public Schools posted on their website. “Once immunization compliance is achieved, they may return to school. Families of students whose records are not up to date or are missing information will be notified via email, postal mail, and a letter home from your child’s school.”

About 2,000 students need their immunization records updated, Seattle schools spokesman Tim Robinson told KCPQ-TV. “We are doing everything we can here — at this sprint to the finish line — to get as many students up to date as possible. We don’t want anybody missing out on any educational time.” Initially, the students’ absences will be marked as unexcused but will be updated to excused absences once their immunization records have been updated.

The division sent letters to parents last week and are now offering free immunization clinics to help expedite the process. Clinics will be available Monday and Friday of next week, the school system’s website said.

The school district is following several other states that are requiring all students are fully vaccinated following the measles outbreak this year. Washington state has seen two outbreaks of measles in the past year and according to the Washington State Department of Health, the outbreaks have a combined tally of 87 cases, the highest number reported in the state since 1990.

Nationwide, there were 1,276 cases of measles confirmed across 31 states between January 1 and December 5, 2019, which is more than triple the number of cases reported in 2018 (375), and according to the Centers for Disease Control, 124 people have been hospitalized and 61 suffered complications such as pneumonia in 2019.

Last July, Washington legislators passed a law in July stating families can’t use personal and philosophical reasons as excuses not to vaccinate their children with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.

The city is offering free immunizations for families whose records are not up to date and need updated vaccinations on Monday, December 30, 2019, and January 3, 2020. The city held its first on Friday, December 27, 2019.

The clinics have been a welcome solution for some parents whose kids need immunizations. “I didn’t know that he didn’t have his vaccination in the records until I got a letter from the school saying that he needed to be vaccinated,” said mom Mary Gomez Camba. “We’ve been trying to schedule this with our doctors. But with work, it has been incredibly difficult.”

Here’s to more school districts taking the measles outbreak seriously and offering free vaccine clinics on campus.