EVERETT, Wash. — Hundreds of Everett students could be turned away from school, because they were not up to date on their vaccines.
As of Nov. 4, 288 Everett students need at least one or more of the required vaccines. Sixty-one of those students were non-compliant with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine requirements.
Unless students have a valid exemption under the new state immunization law, they will be sent home. Everett Public Schools was not able to provide district-wide data as to how many students were barred from classes.
Families received a warning call from the school district on Friday. The district began reaching out to parents in August.
On Friday, approximately 345 students were missing required vaccinations. The district expected the number of unvaccinated students to be lower on Monday.
"We do not anticipate excluding 345 students on Nov. 4," a statement from a district spokesperson says. "Our nurses continue working with families to get their documents in and we fully anticipate our numbers will be even lower on exclusion day."
The statement went on to say the primary concern is the safety of staff and other students, in addition to making sure the school district is in compliance with state law.
Jolene Helm, a junior at Everett High School, said the prospect of unvaccinated students was “pretty scary,” because viruses can spread quickly among students who haven't been immunized.
“I feel like a little more research is needed with a little bit more of an open mind,” Helm said.
Students in Edmonds who were not up to date on their vaccinations or did not have proper documentation were sent home on Friday.
As of October 30, about 222 students in Edmonds were not meeting state immunization requirements.
In May 2019 Washington state required all students to get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, removing the personal or philosophical exemption. Now every school in the state is working to make sure that they comply with state law. Every district is different and has their own timeline for tracking vaccination rates.
Washington state was one of three states that passed legislation this year in response to measles outbreaks.
Washington is now among just 15 states that allow some type of non-medical vaccine exemption for personal or philosophical beliefs. In addition, medical and religious exemptions exist for attendance at the state's public or private schools or licensed day-care centers and those two exemptions for the combined MMR vaccine remain in place under the measure passed by the Washington Legislature earlier this year. The new law also requires staff and volunteers of licensed child care centers to be immunized against measles.