Seattle School-Based Vaccine Services

Summary:

  • Collaboration between school district staff, school-based health centers, and community partners helped document vaccine compliance for over 99% of Seattle Public Schools students in January 2020
  • Community vaccine clinics bolstered efforts to improve compliance with state requirements
  • Community and school-based efforts also promoted recommended vaccines like flu, meningitis, and HPV as well as required vaccines

OVERVIEW

In summer 2019 Washington State removed the personal/philosophical exemption for the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine for public and private schools and licensed child care centers (Engrossed House Bill 1638). School nursing staff and school-based health center (SBHC) teams in Seattle amplified their collaborative efforts to connect students to vaccination services for both required and recommended vaccines. Staff at Seattle’s 28 SBHCs provided vaccines to over 1,500 students between September and December 2019 during regular clinic hours and through additional vaccine events outside of school hours. Partners such as Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) also partnered with school districts and community health organizations to host on-campus vaccine events. These efforts reached over 4,200 students, helping keep roughly 99% of Seattle Public Schools students in class thanks to compliance with State vaccination requirements.

SCHOOL NURSES

Charged with supporting the health and wellbeing of their entire student population, school nurses in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) monitored, updated, and crosschecked vaccination records for the 55,000 student population. Nurses communicated directly with families about vaccine requirements, documentation, and referrals to resources such as SBHCs. Additionally, they supported multilingual audio and visual outreach in ten languages. SPS nursing leadership partnered with the Washington State Department of Health, PHSKC, and District legal counsel, communications, and the Superintendent in Capturesupport of compliance efforts. Stakeholders communicated frequently about health care access gaps, family barriers to vaccination, and strategic resource allocation to best meet the needs of students and families in the district. By the time students returned from Winter Break in early January 2020, nearly 99% had documentation of vaccination compliance.

SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CENTERS

In addition to immunization services, the 28 SBHCs in Seattle Public Schools offer a comprehensive and integrated scope of medical, mental health, and other health care services. SBHCs routinely review student vaccination status and provide outreach for vaccine services, collaborating closely with school nursing staff within their school buildings. Efforts in the 2019-20 school year deepened this partnership and advanced their impact reaching over 1,500 students in need of required and recommended vaccines.

In response to the change in statewide requirements, some SBHCs hosted immunization events outside of their regular clinic hours to meet the needs of district families. These included:

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SEATTLE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION

Students and families also had the opportunity to get flu vaccine only at events hosted by Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) in partnerships with Seattle Public Schools Health Services. SVNA held flu vaccine events at 99 schools, serving 2,675 students.

PUBLIC HEALTH—SEATTLE & KING COUNTY PARTNERSHIPS

PHSKC hosted two free vaccine events at Whitman and Jane Addams Middle Schools for students and families in October and December 2019. In total, these events provided immunizations to 50 students.

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CONCLUSION

With the removal of personal/philosophical exemptions for the MMR vaccine in summer 2019, schools and healthcare providers in King County were re-energized to connect students and families to needed vaccine services. Collaborative efforts between school nurses, school-based health centers, and community partners helped families receive the necessary information and access valuable healthcare services to keep their children in school and protected against vaccine-preventable illnesses. Through these efforts, Seattle Public Schools saw 99% of students meet vaccine compliance and avoid exclusion from school by early January 2020.

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