Get your shots before heading back to school

Watertown Mayer Public Schools are continuing to emphasize the importance of accurate and complete immunization records for their students.

All students entering kindergarten or seventh grade are required have up-to-date immunization records. The district health office is doing this in order to comply with the “No Shots, No School” policy of the State of Minnesota that mandates that no students are allowed to attend school unless their immunizations are complete.  According to Watertown-Mayer District Nurse Shari Hazelbaker, R.N., L.S.N., this information is needed because children in these age groups are either completing their vaccination series or receiving recommended boosters.

The best way to make sure that students are ready for school is for parents to partner with their physician in order to determine that all immunizations are up-to-date.  Most clinics in the area have the information for the ISD #111 health office and are willing to fax the information directly to the school.

In addition, many clinics use the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection database that allows nurses at the school district to access immunization records. There is a provision in the law for parents who are conscientious objectors or have religious reasons for not immunizing their children. However, these parents must still submit a notarized statement to the school health office.

The district has sent reminders to parents in the form of letters and through the automated phone alert system.  Students who do not have complete immunization records will not be allowed to attend school after Sept. 17 until the immunizations are complete or the immunization series is actively in process.

“This may seem inflexible, but this is what the state law mandates and it is really to protect the health of our students, said Hazelbaker, went on to say the most important thing to the district health staff is to keep students healthy and to keep them in school. “In recent years, we have seen a marked increase in cases of pertussis in Minnesota, pertussis impacts school attendance dramatically and immunization is vital in preventing pertussis. Many deadly or life altering diseases have been eliminated with vaccines, we sometimes forget how important vaccines are not only to individual students but also to the community.”

Parents can access the Watertown Mayer School District website for additional information.