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  • Dr. Brandy Ross

Vaccine rules and starting the 2020 school year

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Here we go again, it’s August which means school is about to start! YAY!

Oh, wait.. .there's that whole COVID pandemic thing so school will be remote for the majority of kids in Washington. Setting aside all of the Big Feels that remote-learning brings for families, it is also time to get your kid’s vaccine paperwork filled out and turned in.

Vaccine rules and school attendance in Washington.

"But, Dr. Brandy, school will be at home. The school nurse doesn't need my vaccine paperwork until they go back in person, right?"

Actually, they do need it now. Annoying, right? The schools are still responsible for turning in their vaccine statistics to the state which means you still need to turn in the paperwork BEFORE the first day of school. According to new rules that were implemented this year, all paperwork must be turned in by the first day of school and there will not be a grace period like in the past. Before school starts, you need to turn in an official vaccine record (printed from the state registry by either yourself or your child’s physician) and/or exemption form signed by your child’s physician. Again, this is new!!!

"Well, I can just call my doctor's office and have them fax/email/send me the paperwork."

Unfortunately, most doctor's offices can't do that. BUT, you can pull your child's own vaccine record from MyIR registry. As for the vaccine exemption form, it does require a conversation about risks and benefits of vaccines and that means you need to schedule an in-person or telemedicine visit. Please know that you cannot opt-out of the risk/benefit conversation, I am required by law to have it with you and cannot sign the form until the conversation has happened.

"But, I've had an exemption form in the past and we've already talked about vaccines."

Again, the rules have changed. You can read about the rule changes to vaccines here.

The forms are different this year and as vaccine science is ever-evolving, the risks may have changed and new information may be available. Conversations about vaccines will be ongoing throughout the life of your kiddo. Make that appointment NOW!

"What do I do if my school nurse says my child is missing a vaccine that has more than one dose? Do I have to get them all done before my child can start school?"

No, but they do need to initiate one of those doses before school starts and then they have “conditional status”. That means they can start school on the condition that they get the remaining doses done according to the schedule.

Wondering what vaccines are needed? This link will take you to the CDC schedule of vaccines. They also include a catch-up schedule for those who didn't get their vaccines on time and may need to catch up.

Please don't wait until the first day of school (September 2!!! for 1-12th grade and September 8 for kindergartners) to panic and call the office for forms. Dr. Brandy will not be signing vaccine exemption forms without the legally required risk conversation so please don’t ask her for a “special favor” if you get too close to the school’s start date as she is literally not allowed to.

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