Jan 2, 2020

Unvaccinated students in Seattle will be banned from school

Close-up of folder containing medical forms labeled Refusal to Vaccinate. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Students enrolled in the Seattle Public School district who are unvaccinated will not be allowed to attend classes starting Jan. 8, district officials have warned, per the Seattle Times.

The big picture: With cases of contagious but preventable diseases like measles spiking to new highs in recent years, cities and schools have been trying to mandate vaccinations to keep illnesses at bay.

Why it matters: Under a new law, Washington state no longer allows vaccination exemptions for personal reasons, which has further complicated the issue for schools.

The state of play: Starting Jan. 8, Seattle Public Schools' 53,000 students will need immunization papers for illnesses such as polio, hepatitis B and the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).

  • The district sent letters to the families 2,247 students who still aren't vaccinated. If they fail to provide immunization paperwork by Jan. 6, they will receive a warning call.
  • Students without records who still show up for school will be sent to a designated room as their families are notified, district spokesman Tim Robinson told the Seattle Times.

Go deeper: The intensifying national debate over vaccine exemption rules

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USDA proposes letting schools sub grains, meats for veggies in student lunches

Westbrook Middle School lunch in 2015. Photo: Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The USDA proposed new rules on Friday that would allow schools to serve more grains and meats in place of fruits and vegetables.

Why it matters: The agency's Food and Nutrition Service is responsible for feeding nearly 30 million students through its nutritional programs, per the Washington Post, and these proposed changes would enable schools to cut the number of fruits and vegetables that must be provided to students.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020

Most Americans think measles vaccine has "very high" preventative care benefits

A vial containing the MMR vaccine. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

56% of Americans believe the measles vaccine has "very high" preventative care benefits — an 11-point increase since 2016, according to data out Tuesday from the Pew Research Center.

The big picture: While overall approval of the vaccine (88%) has remained unchanged, Pew credits the increase in perceived preventative health benefits to improved awareness of how measles outbreaks have become a public health problem.

Go deeper: America's dangerous backslide on infectious diseases

Measles-related death toll tops 6,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deaths from measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo surpassed 6,000, with children over the age of 5 most vulnerable to the infectious disease, new data from the World Health Organization showed Tuesday.

Why it matters: About 310,000 suspected measles cases, one-fourth of which are in kids over age 5, have been reported since the beginning of 2019. Vaccinations for children have made headway in some parts of the country, but public health officials are still trying to keep the disease at bay.

Go deeper: DRC health leader discusses what's being done to fight Ebola