February 17th marked School Exclusion Day in Oregon in which children are excluded from school if they are not up to date on their vaccines. The law was implemented in 2015 and proved to be effective at increasing immunization rates: 29,234 school-aged kids were sent letters to complete their vaccinations; and of those children more than 24,000 turned in updated immunization records in order to continue attending school. In order to help families get their children immunized before School Exclusion Day, National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) held a free “Vaccines for Children” event at the Beaverton clinic on Saturday Jan 30th. The Beaverton clinic is a registered “Vaccine for Children” program and offers year-round immunizations that are free or low cost to qualifying families.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with NCNM’s chief medical director, Dr. Regina Dehen, ND who has organized the first “Vaccine Day” at the Beaverton Clinic. The event was successful in that at least 20 children were given all necessary immunizations to be deemed “up to date” and in compliance with state law; others will require additional immunizations. The event did receive some push back from the public, but was generally well received by student clinicians and naturopathic resident physicians. Dr. Dehen further emphasizes, “Vaccine counseling and administration are an essential part of training naturopathic physicians as primary care providers.”
Unlike California with the passage of SB277, families in Oregon can still obtain non-medical exemptions by receiving a signed certificate from their health care provider or by watching on online education module. If you’re like me, you might be wondering if “Vaccine Day” at NCNM turned out to be a vaccine exemption signing party? But I was happy to hear from Dr. Dehen that for scheduling appointments, receptionists were given a phone script instructing them not to schedule appointments for vaccine waivers so that appointments could be reserved for those families in need of immunizations.
In addition to Vaccine Day, NCNM is embracing the science behind immunizations by creating an official policy to comply with Oregon State law requiring students to have proof of 2 MMR vaccinations before entering school.
Congrats NCNM for a job well done!