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Back to School: Missoula students need to get shots before classes start

Students need to have their shots before school starts
Posted at 9:58 AM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 14:54:51-04

MISSOULA — Local health officials are reminding parents to get their kids vaccinated before classes resume after weathering an outbreak of whooping cough.

"Hopefully we won't see any kind of outbreak, epidemic, like we did in the spring," Missoula County Public Schools Nursing Supervisor Linda Simon told MTN News.

Health officials say kids need vaccines for polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

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Simon pointed out that MCPS needs that paperwork before the first day of school.

"There is no grace period in Montana. In order to attend school, you need to have those records in place," Simon noted.

She told MTN News that only about 3% of parents choose to exempt their kids for religious reasons.

"As a reminder, you need a new, Notarized religious exemption at the start of every school year for those kids," Simon said.

The last time MTN News talked with the local health department there were 160 cases of pertussis in Missoula County.

The Missoula City-County Health Department hired extra nurses last spring to help out at the schools.

"We only have so many buckets to get staff ourselves, so we are as prepared as we can be," Simon said, adding that they have no specific concerns going into fall.

"Our plan as a school always to work with the health department, and follow their direction, and their advice, and cooperate in the ways that we need to and that we have to," Simon said.

MCPS rules state kindergartners, seventh grade and transfer students need booster shots.

Simon noted there are around 9,000 kids in the district, and that more than 90% of them have their vaccines up to date. She added a 90% vaccination rate is a good range for herd immunity, and she encourages people to get their kids vaccinated.

But if you choose not to-exemption paperwork can be found under health services on the MCPS website. You can also check your records and get booster shots at the Missoula-City County Health Department.

Most schools in our area will be going back to school within the next couple of weeks.