Call 11 For Action: The Ohio Vaccine Report - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Call 11 For Action: The Ohio Vaccine Report

(Toledo News Now) -

Whooping cough, rubella, mumps, measles – a laundry list of diseases no parent wants to see in a child. But physicians say they are seeing more outbreaks in the United States. In a WTOL 11 Investigation, reporter Amanda St. Hilaire looks at why these diseases are coming back and what you can do to protect your child.

WTOL also uncovers what the Ohio Department of Health and local school districts are – and are not – doing to track and eliminate the problem.

The Problem

Doctors say the diseases listed above are all vaccine-preventable. However, even if your children are considered "caught up" on immunizations, they could still be at risk.

Physicians tell us that's because vaccinations behave differently in different bodies. Sometimes, children get their shots and the immunization doesn't take. Other times, the effects of the vaccines wear off over time. When that happens, there are no warning signs. If your child is sitting next to someone who isn't vaccinated or who has a disease, there is no protection. Doctors say as more students fall behind on their vaccinations, the situation becomes more problematic – especially in schools.

The Requirements

Ohio Law says students will be excluded from school if they don't have certain immunizations before Kindergarten and Seventh Grade. Click here to read the entire statute

Parents have the option of signing philosophical or religious waivers if they are opposed to vaccinations. Doctors can also sign off on medical waivers if a child has an illness or situation that would prevent typical immunization. However, there's a sizable number of students who just aren't caught up.

Your County

The Ohio Department of Health says 11.2 percent of seventh grade students in the state do not have waivers and are not up-to-date on their vaccinations. In Lucas County, the number jumps up to 18.9 percent. 


"The biggest risk that we have is that some of these diseases, many healthcare providers don't recognize them now," ProMedica's Dr. Jon Dvorak said. "And what happens is we discover that a little too late."

Your Schools

So what are your child's chances of getting sick? The Ohio Department of Health says it doesn't know. WTOL 11 asked for information about individual school districts. We wanted to know how many students in each building have vaccination waivers, and how many are not caught up on their immunization information. Representatives from the state tell us those records do not exist.

The law requires schools to report their counts of non-vaccinated students into an online database by October 15 each year. The state says this database does not keep the information sorted by individual school district. Rather, it compresses all the information into one number for each county. State representatives say the database does not even allow them to look up which schools have submitted reports, and there is no penalty for failing to provide information in order to comply with the law.

Smiley face

WTOL continued to dig information by going directly to the school districts. We discovered the Ohio Department of Health does not require schools to keep records showing how many children in each building are not vaccinated. Some school districts voluntarily keep copies of the report they submit to the state and gave us that information, and other school districts tell us they keep their own records. [Ed Note: We've linked the records we were able to obtain at the bottom of this story.]

Some schools do not keep any such records. Toledo Public Schools is one of them. 

"They don't keep a hard copy because, as a district, what we're really interested in, what we need to know is that Johnny Jones is missing his immunizations and we're going to take care of it just at the child level," TPS Health Services Coordinator Ann Cipriani said.

Each school is subject to an audit from the state, in which someone goes through each individual child record. However, auditors are not able to hit every building every year to check for accuracy. So WTOL asked: If schools aren't required to keep records listing non-vaccinated students, how do they know how to handle outbreaks? 

"We would talk to the health department and it's through their direction if those students would be excluded from school," Cipriani said." They would provide us with that counsel. We would not make that decision on our own. We don't have that authority."

In short, the decision goes back to the same department that says it cannot pull up vaccination numbers for your child's school.

Taking Action

Several physicians we spoke with say they're in favor of stricter immunization laws that would require more frequent vaccinations with tougher record-keeping enforcement. Unless and until that happens, there are a few things you can do to protect your child.

The number one line of defense doctors recommend are booster shots. They are supplements to the original vaccines that prevent the effects from fading over time. Some boosters are required for school, but many are not.

Learn more about which booster shots physicians recommend by clicking here.

You can also find out what to do if your child's vaccine doesn't take or if it is recalled by clicking here.

Click to see immunization records for the following school districts:

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