The number represents only 0.4 percent of the 24,529 students currently enrolled in APS. There are only two reasons a student is allowed to attend school without receiving proper immunizations: medical or religious reasons.
“For a medical exemption, a letter must be written from a licensed medical provider stating specifically from which immunizations a child is exempt,” Arlington School Health Bureau Chief Marian Harmon said in an email. “For a religious exemption, the parent must complete the religious exemption form for immunizations and have it notarized.”
Childhood vaccinations have been thrust into the national spotlight after a measles outbreak started at Disneyland in California and has spread to at least 94 people in eight states, according to NBC News. The disease had been largely eradicated in the U.S., but since the Centers for Disease Control reported the disease was brought from overseas, children whose parents declined vaccinations have fallen victim to the highly contagious infection.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle have urged parents to vaccinate their children, shooting down controversial reports from years back that linked vaccinations to autism. Those studies have since been debunked, but the anti-vaccination movement is still prevalent enough in the U.S. to contribute to the largest number of measles cases in 20 years.
Harmon says APS tracks which students have vaccination exemptions, and makes sure to notify parents when there is a disease outbreak at the child’s school.
“School Health works with Arlington Public Schools and Arlington County Communicable Disease staff to determine the needs for that student and their exposure risk,” she said.
APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said there are no suspected cases of measles in the county.
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