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Grand Forks students catch up on vaccination requirements

Nurse Julianna Emanuel prepares a syringe of hepatitis A vaccine for a child Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, at the Sanford Children's Clinic in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Grand Forks public school students barred from attendance last week for not having their necessary vaccines will likely re-enter Monday.

All but three of 79 students were up to date on shots or had submitted the appropriate exemption forms by Friday, according to Assistant Superintendent Jody Thompson.

"And from the feedback we've gotten from the nurses, it appears all three of them have appointments today to get up to date," Thompson said.

Students were supposed to take care of their immunizations Oct. 1, Thompson said.

"Unfortunately as much as we try to communicate to parents about the deadlines, we have had to exclude students in the past."

He suspected more students were behind this year because of a new required booster shot students are supposed to get in the 11th grade. Twenty of the barred Grand Forks students were are in high school, Thompson said.

Across North Dakota, school districts were reporting high numbers of excluded students. On Thursday, West Fargo had 42 and Fargo 18, according to the Forum. The Bismarck Tribune reported schools there having 50.

The state Department of Health will gather information on how many students are vaccinated and how many are exempt Nov. 9. The department will share its data after Jan. 1, 2019, said Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell.

Last year, nearly 94 percent of kindergartners statewide had received their five required vaccines for MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella), Polio, DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), hepatitis B, and chickenpox. Three percent of those students statewide were exempt from vaccinations, mostly through a personal belief option.

Approximately 90 percent of all seventh graders in the state were up to do date on the next round of required vaccines, including shots for meningitis and Tdap (a booster for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis).

In Grand Forks County, vaccination rates for kindergartners reflected the overall state rate with nearly 95 percent of students having all their necessary vaccinations.

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

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