By Miriam Raftery; Kristin Kjaero contributed to this report
February 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The current measles epidemic has focused attention on concerns over parents who decline to vaccinate their children. In East County and San Diego’s inland region (East of I-15) the rate of unvaccinated children in local kindergartens is as high as 90% (at Holy Trinity, a private school in El Cajon) down to just 1% unvaccinated at Mt. Vernon Elementary in Lemon Grove.
Countywide, the rate of kindergartners who are unvaccinated or not current on vaccine boosters is 7.6%.
Many East County/inland area schools have 20% or more of students who have not been vaccinated. These include the Holy Trinity in El Cajon (90%), Waldorf School of San Diego (56%), Learning Choice Academy in east San Diego (50%), Greater San Diego Academy in the Jamul-Duluzura Union district (46%), Heartland Christian Homeschool in Spring Valley (44%), Innovations Academy in Poway (38%), Creekside Early Learning Center in Alpine (37%), Rancho San Diego Elementary (28%), Chabad Hebrew Academy in Scripps Ranch(28%), St. Mary’s School in Escondido (26%), Dehesa Elementary (25%), Classical Academy in Escondido (25% ), Valley Center Primary (24%), Lemon Avenue School in Lemon Grove (24%), Fulton K-8 (23%), Loma Elementary in the La Mesa-Spring Valley District (22%), Maryland Avenue in La Mesa (21%), Ramona Community School (21%), Madison Avenue El Cajon (20%), L.R. Green Elementary in Escondido (20%).
Voice of San Diego recently published an interactive map showing the number of unvaccinated children at each school in San Diego County, which ranged from zero to 100%.
East County Magazine used that data to create a map and a database chart showing schools with vaccination rates worse than then county average in East County and inland San Diego. We also created a database chart that includes the total of unvaccinated kindergarten children (exemption number) and the percentage of kindergarten children who are unvaccinated claiming exemptions at schools in East County and San Diego’s inland region. View the Voice of San Diego interactive map of all kindergartens countywide here.
California currently allows parents to claim exemptions from vaccination requirements for “personal beliefs” unlike most other states where only religious or medical need exemptions are allowed.
A bill coauthored by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales would eliminate the personal belief exemptions to protect public health.
The rate of unvaccinated children is important, since they can contract diseases such as measles and endanger other children or adults who rely on the “herd” immunity of numerous people who have been vaccinated. Unvaccinated people can spread these potentially dangerous illnesses to those who cannot get a vaccine for medical reasons, such as people with immune diseases or illnesses such as lymphoma cancer, as well as infants under one year of age.
Complications from measles can include high fever, brain damage, hearing damage/deafness, pneumonia and death. Before the measles vaccine, hundreds of people died of measles in the U.S.
Children who don’t have vaccinations can also face interruptions in their education, since some schools including schools in Los Angeles and Chicago are now sending all unvaccinated children home for three weeks following an exposure to measles at their schools, to prevent the spread of the disease.
Today, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged all parents to get all recommended vaccinations for their children, adding, “ Vaccines help students avoid crippling, debilitating, and costly diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. They keep students healthy so they can attend school, learn, and succeed, and they eliminate school disruptions such as those caused by the recent outbreak of measles. As a science teacher, I have reviewed the science and can tell you the vaccines have been proven safe and effective for those students who are healthy enough to get the immunizations. They keep your child and your community protected.”