More Calif. Kindergarteners Under-Immunized Than Unvaccinated
Thousands of under-vaccinated children are admitted to California schools, despite their risk for contracting and transmitting diseases, the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting/KQED's "State of Health" reports (Whaley, "State of Health," CHCF Center for Health Reporting/KQED, 2/2).
CHCF publishes California Healthline.
California law requires children entering kindergarten to obtain vaccinations for several diseases, including measles.
However, parents can obtain exemptions to those requirements if immunizations are against their personal beliefs, provided that they provide documentation proving that health care practitioners have informed them about vaccines and diseases before they can opt out of vaccinating their children. Parents also can obtain medical or temporary exemptions (California Healthline, 1/23).
Meanwhile, under-immunized children -- those who have not received the full dosage of a vaccine -- are allowed to enter school on the condition that they will receive the remainder of their vaccinations "soon."
However, schools do not have reporting guidelines to keep track of whether the parents get their children up-to-date on their vaccinations, according to the CHCF Center for Health Reporting/"State of Health."
More Students Under-Immunized
While about 2.5% of California kindergarteners' parents have opted out of vaccinations via personal belief exemptions, nearly 7% start school under-immunized.
According to Amy Pine, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department's immunization program, under-immunized children still are "vulnerable" to contracting and transmitting diseases.
The rate of under-immunized kindergarteners who are admitted to school on a conditional status varies across the state. For example, the rate is:
- 12.28% in Los Angeles County -- nearly double the statewide average;
- 11.62% in San Francisco; and
- 9.68% in Alameda County.
Few counties have taken steps to stem the number of "conditional entrants," but some stakeholders have made recommendations to the state to improve the tracking of such students ("State of Health," CHCF Center for Health Reporting/KQED, 2/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.