Over 200 MN students need to get vaccinated – or get kicked out of school

They've got less than a week to get their shots.
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Hundreds of students at a Minnesota public school have less than a week to get up to date on their shots – or get kicked out of school.

The school board at Rochester Public Schools voted earlier this week to remove students if they do not have state required immunizations by March 1.

The district has been trying to get students updated on immunizations for awhile now. School board documents say the administration has made "significant efforts" to notify families, including sending multiple letters in the mail.

The Tuesday vote to remove students who don't comply was unanimous, ABC 6 says.

At least 204 students haven't supplied the necessary vaccination documents or an exemption, school board documents show.

Now the students' families will be getting another letter – a notice of the board's removal decision.

It's the law

The Department of Health says Minnesota requires all students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12th to show they have received immunizations or an exemption.

Students can be exempted if there is a medical reason or if the parent or guardian provides a notarized statement saying it's a violation of their "conscientiously held beliefs."

According to the department's school immunization data, students with legal exemptions for vaccines in Minnesota are pretty low.

And overall, the immunization rates for Minnesota children are about the same as the national averages.

So why would so many students not be up to date on their shots?

In recent years there has been some speculation that vaccines cause autism, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there's no link between vaccines and autism. There have also been some other safety concerns over the years, like recalls and adverse reactions.

But the CDC says there's "solid medical and scientific evidence that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks."

Rochester school officials have not mentioned why so many students do not meet the requirements. But they did say they are working with Olmsted Public Health, the Mayo Clinic, and Olmsted Medical Clinic to provide easier access to immunizations before school starts in fall 2017.

"The District has been working diligently to connect with these families since January. We will continue to work with the families so that they may obtain sufficient documentation for immunizations or an exemption to immunizations. Once the family submits sufficient documentation, the student(s) are able to return to RPS," a spokesperson for the school told GoMN.

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