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For Immediate Release
August 01, 2017

Get Your Shots for School Early

County Health Department hopes students will be ready for the first day of school

San Rafael, CA – Marin County Public Health officials want to remind parents to make sure their children’s vaccines are current before the first day of school or child care.

A close-up of a nurse's hands preparing a needle for an immunization shot.Certain immunizations are required for children entering school are child care.

State law requires that students receive certain vaccines or they won’t be permitted to attend school or child care, unless they have a valid exemption. This can be challenging for busy parents who are preparing their kids to enter kindergarten or child care for the first time. Parents should also be aware that vaccinations are also required for students entering seventh grade.

Immunizations are considered one of the greatest achievements in public health and medical science and protect children and families from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Some children are unable to be vaccinated because of health reasons, and they rely on the collective immunity of those around them. This was the case for Rhett Krawitt, now 8 years old, who drew national attention during a measles outbreak December 2014 through spring 2015 that originated at Disneyland. Rhett could not be vaccinated against measles because of his leukemia treatment. Rhett bravely advocated for better vaccination coverage, and his public efforts contributed to the passage of California Senate Bill 277, which removed personal belief exemptions from required childhood vaccinations.

Marin’s kindergarten vaccination rates are now at the highest ever recorded, coming from 77.9 percent in the 2011-12 school year to 93.2 percent last fall. With hectic summer schedules, it is advisable to make appointments before clinics fill up.

“Each fall, we encounter families who have difficulty getting the required vaccinations in time due to slots filling up,” said Danielle Hiser, Immunization Coordinator, County of Marin. “For this reason, we urge parents to make vaccinations part of their back-to-school checklist.”

Historically, Marin has had the lowest immunization rate of Kindergarten students in the Bay Area, but Public health officials are thrilled to see an increase in school and child care immunization rates in the past four years.  There are still pockets where the immunization rates are lower, because a critical proportion of the population needs to be vaccinated or have immunity to curb the spread of disease.  “Herd Immunity” varies by disease, but ranges from 83 to 94 percent and applies to many vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and influenza.

“We are happy more children are protected from preventable diseases,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer. “We also strongly recommend annual vaccination for the flu, which is not part of the required package. Influenza is a serious disease, and causes a lot of both school and work absenteeism.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age or older. Parents should make an appointment for vaccines at their child’s regular doctor’s office or clinic. Children without health insurance, with MediCal, or of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent may be eligible for vaccines at low or no cost through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. Find doctors or a clinic that participates in the VFC Program by visiting eziz.org/vfc/provider-locations. For more information on school and child care vaccination requirements and rates, please visit ShotsForSchool.org

Contact:

Dr. Lisa Santora
Deputy Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Lisa Santora
Marin HHS website