SEATTLE - The deadline is quickly approaching for Seattle students to get their immunization records up to date.
Friday wrapped up one of three free vaccination clinics offered by Seattle Public Schools to help families meet the state mandate. Come Jan. 8, students without the required vaccines or approved exemptions won’t be allowed to attend class.
As of Friday, Seattle Public Schools said about 1,400 students do not have up to date immunization records. The district’s Health Services office will continue processing all the paperwork from the free clinics, emails and document drop-offs.
District officials said the number of students out of compliance is expected to go down. However, they said it’s still possible some students will be excluded from school.
“It’s going to be a matter of the district and the school, principals and teachers and nurses doing everything they can right here at the finish line to get all the students records updated come January 8,” said Tim Robinson, spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools.
Out of the three free vaccination clinics offered during winter break, Robinson said only 126 students took advantage. New students Miguel and Maria Toloza from Florida said their family made sure to get their records up to date before class resumed on Jan. 6.
“I know that it’s for a good reason and it’s going to be quick and fast,” said Miguel Toloza, who will be a 5th grader. “Because if you don’t, you get sick and your life could be in danger basically. Because your body is not ready for the viruses.”
Washington state law requires all students have their MMR vaccination or have a signed certificate of exemption.
“I think as responsible parents, we all should be responsible for our children,” said Marieck Garcia, who took her daughter to one of the free clinics. “I think that’s important to keep everybody healthy.”
Garcia’s daughter will be a new student in the district and starts her first day on Jan. 6. The Garcia family recently moved to Seattle from Venezuela.
“Where we came from, there’s people dying from polio, yellow fever,” said Jose Garcia. “For us, it’s important to keep our health as a family, as a community as well.”
The risk of disease spreading is why the district’s health services manager, Samara Hoag, said current records are necessary.
“So that if we have an event such as whooping cough or measles that we can work with the health department right away to respond rapidly. And if we don’t know their immunization data, we don’t know what to do other than say you can’t come to school,” said Hoag.
Those who do show up without updated records on Jan. 8, Robinson said each school will have a designated room to place them.
“The school will contact their families or guardians and say you need to come get your student, unfortunately they have to be excluded from school. And that’s when the district is really going to do everything they can at that point fix that problem,” said Robinson.
There are 28 school-based health centers throughout the district. Hoag said nurses in those centers can help families still needing to get updated records.
Families have to coordinate that by Tuesday to avoid being excluded.
Parents and guardians can email their student’s immunization records to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also drop off the documents at a school nurses office. The district lists student vaccination requirements on its website.