Parents rush to get kids vaccinated before 'exclusion day'

PORTLAND, Ore. - Five-year-old Rowan Hudson walked fearlessly into Tuesday's immunization clinic, carrying her stuffed wolf for protection. Her mom told her it's time to get caught up on her shots.

Before she knew it, the needle was out and it was over.

"Hopefully I don't get another shot," she said.

Her mother, Jennifer Hudson, said she got a letter from Multnomah County two weeks ago that said Rowan was behind on her immunizations.

Wednesday is exclusion day, the deadline for kids to be properly vaccinated or for parents to obtain a religious or medical exemption. Under Oregon state law, if students' shots are not up-to-date, they won't be allowed to go to school.

"I thought I was probably the only one in the city and that I had dropped the ball," said Hudson. "Then I came in and saw all these other parents."

The Multnomah County Health Department said two weeks ago that more than 6,000 kids didn't have required immunizations.

Hudson said there were some vaccinations that she wasn't sure she wanted her daughter to have.

"My in-laws came back from India and they had this really bad cough," Hudson said. "And that kind of scared me a little bit because she was behind on the whooping cough vaccination."

That's why the Multnomah County Health Department offers immunization clinics for under-insured or uninsured families.

"You don't know when you could be exposed to something," said Paul Lewis with the health department. "You could be walking down the street, or be on a bus. Same thing as wearing a seat belt or having your kid in a car seat."

The Multnomah County is offering another health clinic Wednesday for kids who are under-insured or uninsured. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the East County Services Building in Gresham, located at 600 NE 8th Street.