In the beginning of September, North Dakota reported its first case of measles in the state since 2011. Now in October, nearly 200 children have been sent home from school across the state for not being vaccinated, despite repeated warnings from health officials.
Over the summer, health officials warned parents that their children would need to be up to date on their vaccine requirements by October 1st. But according to reports from schools all around the state, students were still not fully vaccinated.
According to West Fargo Pioneer, Fargo public schools excluded 18 pupils and sent 42 home in West Fargo. The Bismarck Public School District excluded 50 students and Grand Forks School District said as many as 79 kids were not up to date.
“We had taken multiple effort to communicate with parents beforehand and let them know that if they don’t have their vaccine by October 1, then starting October 2, per state statute, that they wouldn’t be included,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi told Valley News Live.
Along with the normal vaccine schedule, a new required vaccine is for meningococcal disease, which is a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis, possibly leading to death or permanent disability.
“You can have lifelong effects like neurological damage or loss of limbs. It can be pretty scary if you’re exposed,” North Dakota Department of Health Epidemiologist Brenton Nesemeier told the West Fargo Pioneer.
Parents who have religious reasons for forgoing vaccinations can apply for exemptions.
In a bit of hopeful news, last year North Dakota was among the 10 states with the lowest vaccination rates in the country for schools. Now, the rates have risen to the national average.
The Center for Disease Control says there have been 124 cases of measles confirmed in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
Featured image via screen grab/WDAY