San Diego County’s kindergarten vaccination rates fall below state average
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – New data from the California Department of Public Health shows that the rate of vaccinations for San Diego County kindergartners is declining and falling behind other kindergarten students statewide.
According to information from the state, San Diego kindergarteners had a 92.5 percent vaccination rate in the 2018-2019 school year, which is below the 94.8 percent average for kindergarten students across the state.
San Diego County is below the 95 percent vaccination threshold which public health experts say is necessary to prevent an outbreak of measles or another highly contagious virus. The county’s deputy public heath officer, Dr. Dean Sidelinger said it’s important to boost immunizations rates.
“If vaccination rates go down, it is easier for someone who has measles to spread that disease in our community so we went to keep vaccination rates high. School entry laws that require vaccines on entry to school are the one of the most effective tools we have to ensure that our children and the broader population are immunized,” Sidelinger said.
There are some exemptions for immunizations, which are required for students attending public and private schools in California. Prior to the 2016-2017 school year, parents could obtain an exemption from immunizations for personal beliefs. With a change in state law, most exemptions are now only issued for medical reasons.
According to the Department of Public Health, the number of permanent medical exemptions written in San Diego County has increased. State health officials reported 599 medical exemptions in 2018-2019, which was five times more than the 108 that were written by doctors in 2015-2016, the year before the ban on personal belief exemptions took effect.
As San Diego gets ready for a busy summer travel season, the public health department is also sending out letters to members of the Filipino community to suggest vaccinations for anyone who is traveling to the Philippines, which has one of the world’s largest active measles outbreaks.