County of Marin - News Releases - Child Vaccinations

For Immediate Release
June 05, 2019

Marin County Vaccination Rates are its Highest Ever

More than 94% of kindergarteners vaccinated, slight increase from previous year

San Rafael, CA – For decades, Marin County has been known for low childhood vaccination rates, raising concerns about the risk of disease outbreaks. Public health officials are breathing more easily now, as   kindergarten immunization rates continue to improve and now nearly match the statewide average.

A close-up of a nurse's hands preparing a needle for an immunization shot.Kindergartener immunization rates in Marin are only slightly lower than the California county average.
This school year 94.3% percent of Marin kindergarten students have all the immunizations required for school, compared with the statewide average of 94.8%. This is the closest the county has been to the state average since 2001, when rates were first measured. The new Marin average represents a slight increase from last year’s rate of 94%. The lowest rate recorded in Marin was in 2011 at 77.9 percent.

Officials with the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) believe the rate increase is the result of education, policy, and the change in social norms around immunization. Marin’s rates have been steadily increasing, while the legislation has become stricter. In 2016, California’s immunization laws became much stricter with the 2015 passage of Senate Bill (SB) 277, which went into effect January 1, 2016. Parents were no longer allowed submit a new personal belief exemption (PBE) to required immunizations for school and childcare. 

“We’re much better off than we were a few years ago,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “More people are understanding that the threat of communicable disease is real and that vaccinations protect our whole community, not just one child. But it’s not just about laws or vaccines, it’s about partnership. Schools, parents, legislators, and medical providers all play a role in promoting health in our community.”

Willis said health officials remain concerned about small pockets of Marin with low vaccination rates. Among the 5.7% that remain unprotected, many are clustered in the same schools. On a related note, the number of children with medical exemptions to required vaccinations grew from eight entering kindergarteners in 2015 (.2%) to 82 (2.6%) in 2018.

There is a new bill moving through legislation, SB 276, that would require the use of a standardized medical exemption form, require a state health department or other authority to review and approve medical exemptions, and require the state monitor the doctors who give children exemptions.

“We are thrilled that Marin County’s schools have a critical mass of vaccinated kids to protect from measles and other childhood diseases,” said Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. “We will continue to educate parents and help enforce California’s immunization policy so our students will have all the vaccines they need to protect themselves and the whole community.”

Across the United States, there has been a resurgence of measles, and Marin health officials urge everyone to make sure they are immune or are vaccinated for this highly contagious but easily preventable disease. There have been no confirmed cases in Marin, but some international travelers have acquired measles abroad and traveled through Marin while they were infectious. There have been 47 cases of measles in California in 2019, 10 in the Bay Area.

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


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

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