It started innocently enough, I just wanted to know which vaccines the State of Oregon “requires” children to get before entering kindergarten in a public school. (As we all know, but few other Americans seem to, “require” is a relative term because parents can opt out of any and all vaccine requirements if they so choose through exemptions.)
A quick trip to the Oregon Department of Health website and I found what I was looking for, some of which surprised me:
Kindergartners in Oregon must demonstrate they have received the following vaccines: DTaP, Polio, Varicella, MMR, Hep B, and Hep A.
This means that kindergartners in Oregon do not need to demonstrate that they have received the following vaccines listed for children on the 2009 CDC Immunization schedule, and vaccines that many parents believe they need to get in order for their children to enter school: Hib, PCV (pneumococcal), Rotavirus, Influenza, and Meningitis (meningococcal).
So, of the 11 types of vaccines approved for pediatric use (and given in 36 doses because many are given multiple times), Oregon says you need to prove your child received 6 of them to enter kindergarten, or just over half of the vaccines recommended by CDC.
I called the Oregon Department of Health to try and understand why there appears to be a gap between the CDC’s overall recommendations and what the state of Oregon needs from its public school students and here’s what I learned: