The recent measles outbreak in the United States has received widespread media attention. According to the CDC, between January 1, 2015 and January 30, 2015, fourteen states here in the U.S. have reported cases of measles infections, accounting for a total of 102 cases. Oklahoma is one of a number of states (including California and Arizona, two of the states reporting the largest number of cases) that allow exemptions based upon religious and personal grounds, in addition to medical necessity.
The Oklahoma statute pertaining to school vaccination requirements at 70 O.S.§ 1210.191 requires parents or legal guardians of minor children to provide school authorities with records of immunizations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB), measles (rubeola), (rubella), poliomyelitis, hepatitis A, and varicella before their child or children can be admitted to a public school, private school, or parochial school in the State of Oklahoma. However, 70 O.S. § 1210.192 provides for certain exemptions to the immunization requirement. An exemption from Oklahoma's vaccination requirements on the basis of medical necessity requires a certificate from a licensed physician "stating that the physical condition of the child is such that immunization would endanger the life or health of the child." 70 O.S. § 1210.192 also allows a parent/legal guardian who objects to immunizations on religious or personal grounds to seek an exemption by submission of a "written statement by the parent, guardian or legal custodian of the child objecting to immunization of the child."
Public, private, and parochial schools, and their governing bodies, should take this opportunity to review policies and procedures pertaining to student health. Particularly, documentation of student immunization requirements and accompanying exemptions should be reviewed, not only to ensure compliance with state statutes and regulations pertaining to immunizations, but also to confirm the ability to quickly respond with an action plan to minimize the risk of a school wide outbreak of contagious diseases in the event that an enrolled student becomes infected.