Sacramento-Area School Vaccine Exemptions Up by 30%, Report Says
The number of Sacramento-area children who started kindergarten without vaccinations required by the state increased by 30% in the last school year, according to a report from the California Department of Public Health, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Children entering California schools are required to obtain certain immunizations, according to the Bee.
However, parents can obtain exemptions based on personal beliefs or doctors' orders. Statewide, the rate of vaccination exemptions is 2.79%.
However, a new law that goes into effect in 2014 will require parents who file a personal belief exemption to submit a document signed by a doctor proving that they have been informed of the benefits and drawbacks of vaccinations.
Details of Exemptions
In the Sacramento region -- which includes El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties -- personal belief exemptions were filed for nearly one in 20 kindergarteners during the last school year, compared with one in 35 statewide. No other broad region of the state had a larger percentage of personal belief exemptions for vaccination requirements, according to the Bee.
Private schools, charter schools and schools serving a large number of immigrants have the highest rates of vaccination exemptions, the Bee reports.
According to experts, parents sign the waivers because:
- They feel that they do not have time to obtain vaccinations;
- They read negative information online about vaccinations; or
- They distrust the government.
Ten schools in Sacramento's four-county region account for 25% of kindergarteners with personal belief exemptions, though they only educate about 4% of students in the area.
Addressing Low Vaccination Rates
Olivia Kasirye -- public health officer for Sacramento County -- said the low vaccination rate is "worrisome because it's obviously way too low, and it's in groups that spend a lot of time together," adding, "All it takes is one case to start an outbreak."
Don Saylor -- supervisor of Yolo County -- said, "When you get to the point that people choose, as a group, not to vaccinate their children it could affect the whole community."
To address low vaccination rates, all four Sacramento-area counties offer outreach programs with information about vaccines.
In addition, Sacramento County uses "cultural brokers" -- usually members of the targeted ethnic group -- to discuss vaccinations in communities with high exemption rates (Lambert/Reese, Sacramento Bee, 9/16).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.