School vac­ci­na­tions reach record num­ber

The Signal - - NEWS - By Christina Cox Sig­nal Staff Writer

A record num­ber of stu­dents in sev­enth grade and kinder­garten were vac­ci­nated dur­ing the 201617 school year, ac­cord­ing to two ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary re­ports from the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­ports, im­mu­niza­tions in­creased to 98.4 per­cent for sev­enth grade stu­dents and in­creased to 95.6 per­cent for kinder­garten stu­dents in 2016-17.

The in­crease in im­mu­niza­tions could be at­trib­uted to the state’s stricter vac­ci­na­tion law that went into ef­fect July 1, 2016.

Se­nate Bill 277 ended the ex­emp­tion of vac­ci­na­tions based on per­sonal be­liefs. Un­der the law, only stu­dents en­rolled in in­de­pen­dent study pro­grams or home­schooled pro­grams are not re­quired to be vac­ci­nated. Stu­dents can also still re­ceive ex­emp­tions due to med­i­cal rea­sons.

In its re­ports the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health also cred­ited the im­prove­ment in im­mu­niza­tion num­bers to: out­reach from pub­lic health de­part­ments, schools, med­i­cal providers and part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions; in­creased pub­lic aware­ness about vac­cinepre­ventable dis­eases; and au­dits of el­i­gi­ble schools in 2016 and 2017 for com­pli­ance with im­mu­niza­tion laws.

Sev­enth grade

In Cal­i­for­nia, sev­enth grade stu­dents are re­quired to re­ceive booster shots for tetanus, diph­the­ria and per­tus­sis (whop­ping cough) as well as shots for measles, mumps and rubella, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the 2016-17 school year, im­mu­niza­tions in­creased by 0.6 per­cent­age points, from 97.8 per­cent, in 2015-16 and in­creased by 1.8 per­cent­age points since 2013-14, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health re­port.

“The 2016-17 rate of 98.4 per­cent is the high­est re­ported to CDPH since Tdap be­came re­quired for sev­enth graders in the 2011-2012 school year,” the re­port read.

In Los An­ge­les County, Tdap vac­cine im­mu­niza­tions, or whoop­ing cough im­mu­niza­tions, in­creased by 0.5 per­cent with ap­prox­i­mately 1,304 more stu­dents vac­ci­nated in 2016-17.

Per­sonal ex­emp­tions through­out the state de­creased from 1.7 per­cent in 2015-16 to 0 per­cent in 2016-17, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

In ad­di­tion, med­i­cal ex­emp­tion in­creased from 0.1 per­cent to 0.4 per­cent, and over­due im­mu­niza­tion re­mained at 0.4 per­cent.

“CDPH and lo­cal health de­part­ments in Cal­i­for­nia con­tinue to closely mon­i­tor im­mu­niza­tion cov­er­age and to sup­port schools in pro­tect­ing the health of their stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ties,” the re­port read.

Kinder­garten stu­dents

Be­fore stu­dents en­ter kinder­garten chil­dren are re­quired to be im­mu­nized against 10 dis­eases in­clud­ing: diph­the­ria, per­tus­sis, tetanus, po­lio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepati­tis B, chicken pox and bac­te­rial menin­gi­tis.

The 2015-16 rate of 95.6 per­cent of kinder­garten stu­dents im­mu­nized is also the high­est re­ported for the cur­rent gradelevel re­quire­ments that be­gan in the 2001-2002 school year, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health.

The num­bers re­flect an in­crease in im­mu­niza­tions by 2.8 per­cent­age points from last year and by 5.2 per­cent­age points since two years ago.

In ad­di­tion, con­di­tional en­trants de­clined by 2.5 per­cent­age points over one year and per­sonal be­lief ex­emp­tions de­creased from 2.4 per­cent to 0.6 per­cent in 2016-17.

In Los An­ge­les County, 95 per­cent of kinder­garten stu­dents had all re­quired im­mu­niza­tions in 2016-17.

The num­ber re­flects an in­crease from 90 per­cent the year be­fore, equat­ing to 12,516 more stu­dents im­mu­nized.

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