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Ensure immunizations are up to date before kids go back to school

August 15, 2016

Best way to protect Pierce County children from preventable illnesses

Immunization rates increase with support of parents, school staff, and health care providers, but more work necessary to achieve ‘community immunity.’

TACOMA, Wash. – Preventable diseases should not be among the challenges kids face in school. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department encourages parents to get their children immunized now before school starts in the fall. With preparation, parents can avoid long wait times and possible delays to meet this state requirement.

“Immunization requirements help us achieve a high level of vaccination coverage to prevent disease outbreaks among our school children,” said Nigel Turner, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Communicable Disease division director. “It also helps protect vulnerable people in our communities – those who are too young or immune compromised to receive vaccinations,” Turner said.

This year could be especially busy for immunizations because of the expanded state requirement that all students have two doses of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine before school starts. Students who have already had chickenpox do not need the vaccine, but they must have verification from a doctor.

Immunization Improvements
From the 2014-15 school year to the 2015-16 school year, immunization rates increased for Pierce County kindergartners for:

All required immunizations – from 86.3% to 87.6%.
Whooping cough immunizations – from 94.7% to 95.2%.
Measles immunizations – from 92.2% to 93.1%.

“With rates higher than the state average, we are doing good work to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks,” Turner said. “Parents, school nurses and staff, and health care providers are working together to increase immunization rates and raise community immunity,’” Turner said.

Find a list of immunization requirements by grade, information about the chickenpox vaccine requirement, and a calendar of free immunization clinics on our web site at

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 134 accredited health departments in the country and among five in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager
(253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text),
Steve Metcalf, Communications Specialist
(253) 798-6540, (253) 345-8238, (cell/text),

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