Today, February 21, it’s “School Exclusion Day” in Oregon. As noted by the state’s Health Authority, “parents must provide schools, child care facilities with kids’ vaccine records”. If their “records on file show missing immunizations”, their “children will not be able to attend school or child care” from this date forth.
As spotted by Newsweek, today’s the day that, if you’re a child in Oregon and you don’t have a suite of vaccinations – including MMR, Polio, Hepatitis B, and more – you won’t be given an education, nor will you be allowed to risk the health and possibly lives of other schoolchildren. Similar enforecement initiatives are in operation in other states, from Texas to Illinois.
Authorities explained that, in 2017, nearly 30,000 letters were sent to parents and guardians letting them know their children’s inoculations weren’t up to date. Ultimately, 4,646 children were kept out of educational facilities until things changed – and the state is hoping this year will feature a decrease in said numbers.
There is a caveat here, though: vaccines in this regard aren’t entirely mandatory just yet, for both practical and morally defunct reasons. According to Oregonian state law, all children in any form of education, both public and private, preschools, and certified care facilities, must have up-to-date records or – and here’s the important bit – have an “exemption”.
Generally speaking, these exemptions are medically based. In very few cases, certain children with severe allergies, weakened immune systems, or so on cannot have certain vaccinations, but thanks to the principle of herd immunity, if everyone else is vaccinated, they remain essentially protected from the disease in question.
In some cases, nonmedical exemptions are also allowed for “personal, religious, or philosophical reasons”. Although these aren’t obtainable immediately upon request, they are given out – and according to a 2014 review on such matters, nonmedical exemptions are showing a rate increase across the nation.
“Most exemptors questioned vaccine safety, although some exempted out of convenience,” the study noted.