At these 7 Bay Area schools, more than half of the students are unvaccinated

At seven schools in the Bay Area, more than half of the students are unvaccinated, according to the most recent data available from the California Department of Public Health.

One of these schools, the small Marin Waldorf School in San Rafael, is among the state’s top 10 schools with the lowest vaccination rates; only 22 percent of its 36 students have all immunizations. The Berkeley Rose School, which also has a small student body, was 12th highest ranked in the state with just 29 percent of 21 students vaccinated.

See the schools with lowest vaccination rates in the Bay Area below, according to 2017-18 kindergarten data:

  • Marin Waldorf School, San Rafael: 22 percent vaccination rate
  • Berkeley Rose School: 29 percent vaccination rate
  • Steele Lane Elementary, Santa Rosa: 32 percent vaccination rate
  • Sebastopol Independent Charter: 36 percent vaccination rate
  • Life Oak Charter, Petaluma: 43 percent vaccination rate
  • Sunridge Charter, Sebastopol: 44 percent vaccination rate
  • Reach, Sebastopol: 48 percent vaccination rate

See the statewide numbers lower down in this article.

(Note: These rates can change during the year if more parents vaccinate their children.)

While the nation grapples with the highest number of measles cases in decades, health officials are zeroing in on immunization rates. They say 95 percent of people need to be immunized to prevent outbreaks.

An incoming kindergartner is required to get five vaccinations including the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine before starting kindergarten, but some parents choose not to vaccinate. Some believe the shots cause adverse side effects, even though medical research shows vaccines are generally safe. Federal guidelines say children should only avoid vaccinations if they have a severe allergic reaction or impaired immunity such as from a liver problem, the HIV virus or chemotherapy; less than 1 percent of children fall into that category.

In the past, California parents could easily opt out of vaccinations, but in 2016 the state ended non-medical immunization exemptions. As a result, statewide kindergarten immunization rates increased to more than 95 percent in 2017-2018.

Parents can still obtain exemptions through doctors who examine the child and send the state health department the reason they are recommending the exemption.

Health officials say the rate of medical exemptions has also tripled in recent years. It is still less than 1 percent of school children statewide, but dozens of schools have exemption rates of at least 15 percent.

ALSO: California vaccine rules advance over emotional opposition

Health officials say low immunization rates are problematic because the nation’s health system depends on a concept known as herd immunity. The medical community pushes to vaccinate as many people as possible to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases and to create a situation where those few people who can’t be vaccinated — because they’re too young or their immune systems are compromised — are protected by those who are immune. When the vaccine rate drops below a certain threshold, the herd becomes vulnerable.

In California, even medical exemptions are under fire as the state experiences a measles outbreak. This year’s national measles tally reached the highest it’s been since 1994, according to an Associated Press count.

The Senate Health Committee approved a proposal Wednesday to give state public health officials (instead of local doctors) the power to decide which children can skip their shots before attending school. They acted despite more than three hours of often emotional opposition from parents and some children, and after spending another hour debating where to draw the line between individual rights and public safety.

“Our job here in Sacramento is to try to thread the needle,” concluded Democratic Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel. “Your right to your choice should not interfere with the health and safety of my child or grandchild.”

The measure passed to a fiscal committee on a party-line vote, with the panel’s two Republicans opposed.

Lowest vaccination rates at school in California, according to the California Department of Public Health:

1) Sierra Waldorf School, Jamestown: 7% of 28 students vaccinated

2) Inspire Charter School, Acton: 14% of students vaccinated

2) Inspire Charter School – South, El Cajon: 14% of students vaccinated

3) Inspire Charter School – North, Meridian: 15% of 295 students vaccinated

4) Inspire Charter School – Kern, Maricopa: 18% of 891 students vaccinated

5) Winship Community, Meridian: 19% of 31 students vaccinated

6) Clarksville Charter, Cameron Park: 20% of 143 students vaccinated

7) Compass Charter Schools of Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks: 21% of 28 students vaccinated

7) Twin Ridges Home Study Charter, Nevada City: 21% of 33 students vaccinated

8) Marin Waldorf School, San Rafael: 22% of 36 students vaccinated

9) Pathways Academy Charter, Bonsall: 23% of 43 students vaccinated

10) Learning Latitudes Charter, El Cajon: 25% of 177 students vaccinated

11) Compass Charter Schools of San Diego, Thousand Oaks: 26% of 39 students vaccinated

12) Inspire Charter Schools – Central, Fresno: 28% of 189 students vaccinated

13) Berkeley Rose School, Berkeley: 29% of 21 students vaccinated

13) Sky Mountain Charter, Placerville: 29% of 178 students vaccinated

13) New Day Academy: 29% of 41 students vaccinated

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/kindergarten-fewest-vaccines-california-measles-13798841.php.

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