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About 300 students in the Ellensburg School District are not up to date on their immunizations, and proof of immunization needs to be provided to the school nurse by March 16.

A new state law might prevent 300 students in the Ellensburg School District from coming to class this spring.

Last year, the Washington state Legislature passed a law taking out the personal and philosophical exemption for children from certain vaccines required for school and daycare.

About 300 students in the Ellensburg School District are not up to date on their immunizations, and proof of immunization needs to be provided to the school nurse by March 16. If immunization records are not provided to the school by March 30 (the first day after spring break), students will be excluded from school until the records are provided.

The district is partnering with Kittitas County Public Health Department to provide free clinics to students on Feb. 18 from 3-6 p.m. at Valley View Elementary. There will be another free vaccine clinic on March 30, the day students will be sent home if they are not immunized. This clinic will be held at Ellensburg High School from 8 a.m. to noon.

Executive Director of Student Services Kelly Kronbauer said any students who show up to school on March 30 unvaccinated can simply get their shots at the clinic on the day, and then head off to class. Students who refuse the vaccination will be sent to the office until a parent or guardian can pick them up.

Kronbauer said the school district has sent letters to families informing them of the new requirements. However, of the approximately 300 students who are not immunized, Kronbauer estimates the district has only heard back from a third of them. He said the district wants parents to understand there is a timeline, and they expect that there is going to be some upset parents, and the district wants to do everything they can to inform parents and give them as much time as possible to react.

“This isn’t about a judgment call of right or wrong versus immunizing, for the district,” Kronbauer said. “This is really a matter of legality and compliance. As a school district we have a legal obligation to assure that we follow the law.”

Tim Roth, nurse with the Kittitas County Public Health Department said it is extremely important that students get vaccinated. Specifically, it is important the they get the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine. The measles outbreak last year demonstrated why it is important to get the MMR vaccine.

Roth said choosing not to immunize effects more than just yourself. The MMR vaccine provides 99 percent protection against the disease, which means that there is still 1 percent that are unprotected. People who are not vaccinated can and will contract the disease, and then spread it to those who are unprotected. This is called herd immunity.

A vaccine works by preparing the body to fight the disease. It is essentially providing the body with a weakened version of the disease that, according to Roth, “can only wiggle around, it can’t bite or jump.” The vaccine trains the body, telling the body that it needs to create antibodies to fight the disease.

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