SOUTH COAST — If children don’t receive vaccinations before Feb. 20, they will be excluded from school.

In a press release from the Oregon Health Authority this week, the Oregon Immunization program reminded parents that Feb. 20 is School Exclusion Day. This means children won’t be able to attend school or child care starting that day if their records on file show missing immunizations, the release said.

“Under state law, all children in public and private schools, preschools, Head Start and certified child care facilities must have up-to-date documentation on their immunizations, or have an exemption,” the release stated.

"This year’s School Exclusion Day reminder has taken on added urgency as the Pacific Northwest confronts the worst preventable measles outbreak in more than two decades," said Stacy de Assis Matthews, school law coordinator in the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division, in the release. "Immunizations are the most effective way to stop the spread of measles and other communicable diseases that put children and others at risk."

If by Feb. 20 children don’t have their vaccinations, they will be sent home. Last year, local health departments sent out 24,725 letters to parents and guardians informing them that their children needed immunizations to stay in school or child care, the release said.

In total, 4,349 children were kept out of school or child care until vaccinations were completed or documents updated.

To get vaccinations for children, contact their health care provider or local health department.

“No one can be turned away from a local health department because of the inability to pay for required vaccines,” the release said. “Many pharmacists can immunize children seven and older.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.