August 6, 2020

Requested actions

Background 

We anticipate children will return to some version of school in the upcoming school year. These congregate settings pose an increased risk of disease outbreak and transmission. An outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would place a large strain on our healthcare system. Even if schools do not return in an in-person setting, students are still required to be up to date on school required vaccines on the first day of school.

Updated vaccine rules are in effect.

Washington State Board of Health’s change to Washington Administrative Code Chapter 246-105 is in effect for the 2020-2021 school year. These changes may spur an increased demand for well-child visits. The change has 3 components:

  • Medically verified immunization records are required for school and childcare entry.The state has clarified the definition of conditional status.
  • Students must have all school required vaccines or exemptions and all paperwork on the first day of school. The Tdap requirement has changed from 6th-12th grades to 7th-12th grades.
  • All students entering 7th grade must have a Tdap on or after their 10th birthday. Students in 8th-12th grades must have a Tdap dose on or after their 7th birthday based on the previous guidelines.

Prepare children for school.

  • Make sure students are up to date on their vaccines by the first day of school.
  • Provide families with immunization records or encourage them to use MyIR to print the Certificate of Immunization Status. Each school needs the immunization records for all students for attendance.
  • Ensure school orders and medical authorizations are up to date. Students need them to safely attend school. Pay extra attention to life-saving medications like inhalers and epi-pens.
    • Specify whether students can carry inhalers and/or epi-pens. This is especially important for students in afterschool activities.
    • Consider using PCMS forms.
  • Complete sports physicals for student-athletes.
  • Talk to families about getting the flu vaccine.

*While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, the CDC believes that it is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading.  In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever.  CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.  The WA DOH is not able to give an exact date of publicly supplied flu vaccine availability, but it is not expected until late August or early September.  The manufacturer ships the vaccine to McKesson, then McKesson notifies the CDC of the quantity received.  The CDC then makes an allocation for all states.

Resources to safely provide in-person services

Additional resources

Immediately report COVID-19

  • All lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections are reported to the Washington Disease Reporting System whether tested through public health or commercial labs. Whatcom County Health Department then receives and reports the test results.
  • Fax the COVID-19 Report Form to 360-778-6103 or you can leave us a non-urgent confidential report on our 24-hour Communicable Disease Report Line, 360-778-6150.

*Provider consultation with Whatcom County Health Department Communicable Disease staff is available at (360) 778-6100 during hours of 8:30 am-4:30 pm. For consultation after hours, call (360) 778-6100 and follow directions to connect with the Health Department’s Answering Service.

Patient communication

Share these materials with patients.

What to do if you have COVID-19.
What to do if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and haven’t been exposed or tested.

Additional resources

Washington State COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.
CDC guidance for healthcare providers and facilities.
DOH COVID-19 data dashboard.
DOH COVID-19 page.
CDC COVID-19 page.