Valley parents scramble to vaccinate their kids after many turned away on first day of school

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Some districts, including Fresno Unified on Monday, had to send kids home because they were not compliant with the new vaccination law. (KFSN)

Over the last week, many students in the Central Valley have headed back to school. Some districts, including Fresno Unified on Monday, had to send kids home because they were not compliant with the new vaccination law.

Hundreds of seventh graders didn't get to start the first day of school as planned on Monday.

"It's the state's law, not Fresno Unified's law-- and all we're doing is upholding the law we're bound by," said Gail Williams, Fresno Unified School District.

As of July 1st of this year, parents could no longer opt out of immunization requirements for their children because of personal or religious beliefs.

"I'm kind of against it actually," said J Tablett.

Tablett was one of the hundreds of parents who brought their child to Fresno Unified's free immunization clinic. Her son, Cade, was turned away from school Monday because he didn't have the T-DAP vaccine.

"Especially for him being autistic-- he had a bad reaction to the chicken pox vaccine and we're always worried what's going to happen and is it going to affect his health later on. Is it going to cause more damage than it would help him."

After getting turned away on the first day of school, though, Tablett said she had no choice but to bring him in for his immunization.

"He loves school, I'm not going to keep education from him. You can't go anywhere in life without an education right now."

Tablet is not alone-- Fresno Unified reports roughly 1,300 seventh graders were told they couldn't get into their classes because they didn't have proof of their immunization. Central Unified had fewer issues, with roughly just 15 students turned away on the first day of school. Visalia Unified, which like Central started last week, said they had about 150 seventh graders who couldn't come to school because they didn't have proof of the vaccine. As of Tuesday, that number has lowered to 63 students.

Williams said, "We called parents and said, 'this is a requirement for them to be in school. We either need you to bring us the documentation or we need you to come and get your child, and you can either go to our immunization clinic, go to the health department, or make an appointment with your own care provider.'"

Parents can get the vaccine at their child's pediatrician, the health department, or at the district's free immunization clinic. On Monday-- the clinic was packed with parents whose children were turned away. At one point, officials were concerned they would run out of the vaccines needed for kindergartners.

Williams said there is still plenty of the T-DAP vaccine for any Fresno Unified seventh graders who need to get it done. Eric Gonzales said the shot didn't even hurt and he is eager to get back to class.

"At school, they kept on taking me out of class."

Vanessa Gomez, Eric's guardian, said, "I thought we were up to date on all the immunization records, so I looked, but I guess I missed one underneath all the chaos. So I guess you could mistake it and not see it."

The new law was passed after a massive measles outbreak across the country in 2014. Kindergartners are usually vaccinated for the disease.

Fresno Unified's free immunization clinic will be going on until Friday.

Related Topics:
educationvaccinesfresno unified school districtcentral unified school districtfresnoFresno
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