Vaccine Rates at Some L.A. Area Schools Match Developing Countries
The vaccination rates in some wealthier areas of Los Angeles are as low as those in developing countries -- such as Chad and South Sudan -- and could be contributing to disease outbreaks in the region, according to an investigation by the Hollywood Reporter (Baum, Hollywood Reporter, 9/10).
Details of L.A. Area Vaccination Rates
California parents can opt out of vaccinating their children by filing a personal belief exemption. Some parents file the exemptions because they do not want to vaccinate their children, but others might do so because they are unable to obtain the shots on time, according to The Atlantic (Khazan, The Atlantic, 9/16).
In one of the wealthier regions in the Los Angeles area -- which includes Beverly Hills, Malibu, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, among other cities -- rates of vaccination exemptions for preschoolers increased by 26% from the 2011-2012 school year to the 2013-2014 school year, reaching 9.1%. Meanwhile, exemption rates in Los Angeles County overall were about 2.2% during the 2013-2014 school year, according to the Reporter.
Exemption rates were significantly higher in some preschools. For example, the Waldorf Early Childhood Center in Santa Monica had an exemption rate of 68% and the Kabbalah Children's Academy in Beverly Hills had an exemption rate of 57%. Those exemption rates put the schools in line with vaccination rates in some developing countries, according to World Health Organization data.
Experts say that the risk of diseases is greater when 6% or more of the population has not received full immunizations and that the high rates of exemptions could be contributing to outbreaks.
As of Sept. 2, nearly 8,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported in the state this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Of those cases, 267 required hospitalization and 58 required intensive care treatment.
About 94% of whooping cough cases in the state this year affected children, and three infants under two months old have died.
In Los Angeles County, more than 1,300 cases of whooping cough have been reported this year -- the most of any county in the state.
In addition, the number of measles cases in the U.S. is at a 20-year high -- with about 50% of cases reported in California affecting unvaccinated individuals.
Deborah Lehman, associate director of pediatric infectious diseases at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, called the outbreaks "a smoldering fire that has started and it could be a complete wildfire if vaccination rates continue to fall" (Hollywood Reporter, 9/10).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.