Anchorage schools send hundreds home on first day

Posted: Friday, August 21, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Nearly 700 students who didn't have their chickenpox vaccination missed the first day of school Wednesday, the Anchorage School District said.

KTUU reports there have been long lines this week at the Anchorage Health Department, which says there is no shortage of vaccine.

Classes for kindergartners and first-graders begin Tuesday, and officials expect that more students will miss school because of the lack of vaccinations.

The chickenpox vaccine was added this year to the list of others required by the state: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. All are free - paid for by the state - although private physicians usually charge an administrative fee to give the shots.

Anchorage has about 15,000 students at 65 elementary schools.

In Fairbanks, where school started Monday, 67 students were excluded from their classrooms on the first day. Other school districts expect similar first days. Juneau schools open Aug. 31.

Families may opt out of vaccinations for medical or religious reasons, but must show forms.

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