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      Few exceptions to state's vaccination requirements

      At Columbia Public Schools, there are just two exceptions to the state's vaccination requirements.

      Before Missouri students can return to school, they must show proof that their vaccinations are up-to-date and in accordance with state law.

      "They have to bring medical immunization records to be able to show that they have received the vaccinations and that they are current,â?? Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said Monday.

      Among the required vaccinations are polio; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); and hepatitis B.

      "Schools are kind of a petri dish of bacteria and diseases,â?? Andrea Waner, public information officer for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, said.

      â??There are a number of things people can catch from being there. Being vaccinated against the various diseases will help you to be safer and healthier not only for yourself but also for your classmates, your teachers and the community that surrounds you."

      At Columbiaâ??s public schools, there are very few exemptions to the vaccination requirements.

      â??If you have a written letter from a doctor saying that you can't receive, for medical reasons, a certain vaccination. Or if you have a religious exemption,â?? Baumstark said.

      â??Or we also have special policies regarding homeless youth or military youth."

      Those policies state that homeless students who are unable to provide proof of immunization will be immediately enrolled. The districtâ??s homeless coordinator will then work with the student to get the necessary immunizations as soon as possible.

      Students in households of active duty members of the military who are unable to provide proof of immunization will be immediately enrolled and given 30 days to get the required vaccinations or begin a series of vaccinations.

      Waner called vaccinations â??criticalâ?? to maintaining health and wellbeing of students and communities as a whole.

      S he said many people forget these diseases exist because they are so uncommon in most communities.

      "Any of these diseases can be just an airplane ride away,â?? Waner said.

      â??You could go visit somewhere, somebody could be unvaccinated, you yourself could be unvaccinated, you could bring it back with you and not know you have it. [Then you could] expose somebody else who's not vaccinated and it's just a ripple effect from there."

      Waner said studies linking vaccines to things like autism have been discredited, and the Department has been trying to clear up misconceptions to hesitant parents.