About 750 Seattle students won’t be allowed to attend school on Wednesday because they haven’t updated their vaccination records.
The policy is a result of a new Washington state law that limited exemptions for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, requiring that students be fully vaccinated or be in the process of completing immunizations in order to attend school.
The law, which followed a measles outbreak in the state, prohibits families from using personal or philosophical reasons to avoid the MMR vaccine. It still allows for exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Wednesday marks the deadline for Seattle families to update student immunization records or have them excluded from school. As of Tuesday evening, there were 747 students whose records had still not been updated, a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson confirmed to TIME.
“Students who are out of compliance with the Washington state immunization law on Wednesday, January 8, will be excluded from attending school and should not report to school,” the school district said in an online notice about the vaccination requirements. “If students without updated immunization records arrive at school they will be placed in a designated room or space and families will be called to come pick up their child. Students must remain out of school until immunization record compliance is met.”
We want all students safe, healthy, and learning. Make sure your student’s immunization records are up to date by Jan. 8. Per state law, students without updated records will be excluded from school. Once in compliance, students may return to school: https://t.co/0BUUZ2fvCl
— Seattle Public Schools (@SeaPubSchools) January 7, 2020
The Washington state law is just one example of the fallout from widespread measles outbreaks last year. There were 1,282 confirmed cases of measles in 31 states in 2019, according to the CDC — more than in any year since 1992. And the rise of an anti-vaccine movement has led to clashes over mandatory vaccine policies in schools.
Measles — a highly contagious viral disease that causes a fever, cough, runny nose and rash — was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 and can be prevented with the safe and effective MMR vaccine. Most of those who contracted measles last year were not vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Seattle Public Schools has been holding free immunization clinics for students in recent weeks and will host another next week. Officials are encouraging families to visit a clinic or one of 28 school-based health centers to get help completing their vaccinations.
“We want all students safe, healthy, and learning,” the district said in a tweet Tuesday. “Once in compliance, students may return to school.”
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Contributor: Katie Reilly