County of Marin - News Releases - Marin Childhood Vaccine Rates Highest Recorded

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For Immediate Release
April 13, 2017

Marin Childhood Vaccine Rates Highest Recorded

Evaluators credit statewide vaccine law in effect this school year

San Rafael, CA – Kindergarten immunization rates in Marin County are the highest they have been since 2000 according to new statewide data. This school year, 93.2 percent of Marin kindergarten students have received all of the immunizations required for school, an increase of 4.7 percent from last year. This is a dramatic change from the 2011/12 school year, when local immunization rates were at its lowest point, or 77.9 percent of kindergarten students.

This revelation is part of a new assessment conducted by the California Department of Public Health looking at children attending kindergarten in California in the 2016-17 school year. The report found that vaccination rates among kindergartners statewide are at their highest point since 2001. California state law requires immunizations to protect against measles, whooping cough, chicken pox and several other diseases.

One explanation for the statewide trend is the passage of Senate Bill 277, legislation enacted in 2016 that eliminates personal and religious exemptions from immunization requirements for children in childcare and public and private schools. This was the first school year that new Kindergarten and 7th-grade students were no longer allowed to submit a personal belief exemption (PBE). Students in their second year of kindergarten through 6th grade are able to have their PBE grandfathered in until they reach the next checkpoint at 7th grade. The law also applies to children enrolling in child care for the first time and to students when they first enter a California school.

For many years, Marin’s reputation of being a “non-vaxing” community was the topic of national scrutiny, especially during the 2014-15 measles outbreak in California. The local conversation against vaccinations changed when Marin parent, Carl Krawitt, drew national attention when he challenged the community to enforce vaccination so his medically fragile son would be safer at school.

“The law has been crucial, but this increase is also due to the collective efforts of the schools, medical providers, and concerned parents who have promoted protecting our community and advocated for this law,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Health and Human Services. “More children in Marin are now safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines are one of most effective public achievements of all time and protect everyone, especially those who are medically vulnerable.”

While the rate of students fully immunized has increased, Marin saw a ten-fold increase in medical exemptions. This year the medical exemption rate is 2.1 percent, up from 0.2 percent in the 2015-16 school year. The Department plans to investigate the reasoning behind the increase and identify vulnerable areas with lower immunization rates.

“We are especially happy that many vaccine-hesitant parents have been willing and able to get their children vaccinated,” said Danielle Hiser, Senior Public Health Nurse for the County of Marin and coordinator of Marin’s Immunization Program. “However, with the measles outbreak in Southern California and three mumps outbreaks in other parts of the country earlier this year, vaccine-preventable diseases are still a nationwide concern. We need to remain vigilant about making sure vaccines are accessible and available.”

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.

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Contact:

Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer

Dr. Lisa Santora
Deputy Public Health Officer

Health and Human Services

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