60 students without vaccines kept out of school in Fargo, West Fargo
A nurse prepares a syringe with a vaccine for a child in 2016 at the Sanford Children's Clinic in Fargo. Forum file photo
FARGO — Sixty students without the right vaccines were barred from class this week in the Fargo and West Fargo public school districts as North Dakota schools are becoming stricter on enforcing immunization rules.
In West Fargo, 42 students were excluded from school for not complying with immunization requirements, according to district spokeswoman Heather Leas.
The number of exclusions wasn't as high in Fargo, where 18 students were excluded district-wide.
In the Bismarck School District, the Bismarck Tribune reported that 50 students were excluded Monday, Oct. 1, which was the statewide deadline requiring districts to exclude students from class until they meet immunization requirements, or have an exemption on file.
If a student has an immunization appointment scheduled, the student can stay in school and staff will follow up with the family after the appointment to confirm the immunization was administered.
Moorhead Area Public Schools had no exclusions for students lacking proper immunizations.
Pam Gibb, the district's spokeswoman, said this was a result of nursing staff working hard to follow up with families who had not submitted immunization records or filed notarized exemption forms.
If families opt out of immunizations, students must provide the proper exemption paperwork. Exemptions are allowed for medical reasons and because of philosophical, moral or religious beliefs.
AnnMarie Campbell, spokeswoman for the Fargo School District, said that while many exclusions come up now at the start of the school year, students can be excluded later if they don't comply with immunization requirements that kick in on their birthday. She said required vaccines are based on birthdays and the district sends letters to parents reminding them to update immunization records.
"We're notifying them in advance so they can get that taken care of before the point of exclusion," she said.
Campbell's advice to families is to either get immunizations up to date or get the proper exemption paperwork on file. If families are unsure whether a student is in compliance with immunization requirements, she advised them to contact their health care provider.
School officials in Bismarck said the dozens of exclusions there were due in part to a new state requirement regarding the meningococcal vaccine. In previous years, students entering seventh and 10th grades needed only one dose, but now a second dose is required for juniors and seniors.