For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 19, 2016
With new law in effect, more kindergarten students protected from disease
San Rafael, CA – Kindergarten immunization rates in Marin County are increasing, paralleling a California trend of fewer parents requesting personal belief exemptions from required vaccinations.
This school year, 89 percent of kindergarten students in Marin have all of the required immunizations, which include protection against whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, and other diseases. There are still pockets of vulnerable areas with low immunization rates, but Marin Public Health officials are positive about the results.
“We are thrilled that the average immunization rate is improving countywide, but what’s even better is that we have schools with 95 percent or more of their kindergarten class fully vaccinated, which is the threshold to prevent spread of measles and other diseases,” said Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Santora.
Over the past several years, Marin HHS’ Public Health Office has seen an increase in public awareness about immunization, a sizeable measles outbreak in California, and new legislation strengthening school entry requirements. The most recent law, SB 277, became effective January 1 and eliminated use of the personal belief exemption. Students entering child care, kindergarten, and seventh grade, or who are entering a California school or child care for the first time from out of the state, must be immunized to enter school by law. Exemptions for medical reasons will continue.
After Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 277 last summer, Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said, “This law will make our schools safer and our children better protected. It’s a big step forward for community health.” Since then, Marin HHS has collaborated with the Marin County of Education and Marin Child Care Council to offer workshops on the implementation of the new law.
“We know that some parents are catching their children up with vaccinations and we recognize that this can be a challenge,” said nurse Danielle Hiser, who helps lead the County’s immunization program. “We encourage parents to work with their child’s pediatrician to come up with a plan to catch up before fall. In the end, more students in our schools will be protected.”
To view an interactive map of school and child care immunization levels in Marin and throughout California, or for information on immunization law and requirements, please visit ShotsForSchool.org.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website