800 unvaccinated school kids told to stay home today in Seattle

Washington passed a law last year eliminating personal vaccination exemptions.

January 8, 2020, 12:16 PM

Nearly 800 Seattle students will be kept out of school on Wednesday, their first day back after winter break, because they aren't vaccinated against measles.

The move comes after Washington legislators passed a law last year that eliminated parents' personal option to exempt their children from the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Seattle Public Schools started with 7,000 unvaccinated students among approximately 54,000, officials said. After holding a series of free vaccination clinics and sending warning letters to 2,274 students, advising that they'd have to stay home if they weren't vaccinated by Jan. 8, that number fell significantly.

If students can show proof of an upcoming vaccination appointment, they'll be let into school on Wednesday.

Vaccination Exemption Laws by State, 2019
ABC News Photo Illustration, Adapted from the LexisNexis StateNet Database and the Immunization Action Coalition, May 2019

The new law came in response to two measles outbreaks in the state in 2019, which sickened more people in Washington in a single year than any since 1990, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

"It's very important for a safe, healthy learning environment for our students, some of whom have compromised immune systems, or they are very delicate in their health," Samara Hoag, health services manager at Seattle Public Schools, told ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.

"It's also important for our staff, and of course, it's also part of the law," Hoag said.

A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, March 20, 2019.
Lindsey Wasson/Reuters, FILE

Students who show up at school today without proof of being vaccinated, or with a medical or religious exemption certificate signed by a health care provider, will be directed to a waiting area until their parents can pick them up.

There were 1,282 cases of measles in the United States last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the worst year for the infectious disease since 1992.

The global measles outlook in 2019 was no better, with large outbreaks in regions around the world, and more than 400,000 measles cases reported to the World Health Organization as of early November.

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