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Fallout continues from whooping cough outbreak

November 23, 2011

Providence School officials have sent letters to the parents of 150 middle school students, warning that their children need to be vaccinated, and the school needs documentation from a doctor. The letters all went to parents at Gilbert Stuart Middle School, where a student came down with pertussis, or whooping cough, this month.

Roughly 50 students took advantage of a free vaccination clinic earlier this week, and a handful of students have now provided paperwork from their doctors, according to the district.

School officials say they do not know how many students district-wide are missing vaccinations, but school nurses are reviewing their records.

Students are required to get a series of booster shots between 6th and 7th grade. District officials say they do not usually turn students away at the start of 7th grade simply because vaccination paperwork is missing.

“Our goal is to have all kids in school,” said Christina O’Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Providence Public Schools. “It’s been a huge challenge for school nurses to make sure there is compliance with this set of 7th grade booster shots.”

O’Reilly says reminder letters go out to hundreds of parents, starting in the summer before their children start 7th grade. Providence will consider hosting more free vaccination clinics if it turns out that large numbers of students at other schools need vaccines.

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