Napa kindergartners top state average for immunizations

Waldorf students rank much lower
2014-04-12T13:00:00Z 2014-04-14T13:27:59Z Napa kindergartners top state average for immunizationsISABELLE SCHMALTZ Napa Valley Register
April 12, 2014 1:00 pm  • 

An annual assessment of kindergartners’ immunization rates shows that Napa County schools are mostly above the state average of 90.2 percent when it comes to having all required vaccines, but one school falls well below those numbers.

Kindergartners at Stone Bridge School — a Waldorf charter school in Napa — have the lowest rates of vaccination among all enrolled kindergarten students in Napa County. With only 60 percent of its kindergartners up to date on vaccinations, the school’s immunization rate is also far below state average.

Kindergarten students in Napa County — and throughout California — are required to have certain vaccinations before starting school. The required shots are Polio, DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis), MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Hepatitis B, and Varicella (Chickenpox).

Parents can opt out of the vaccinations by filing a Personal Belief Exemption form. Among the 40 kindergartners enrolled at Stone Bridge, 40 percent (16 students) have a personal belief exemption, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. This is the highest number of personal belief exemptions for kindergarten students in Napa County.

St. Helena Primary has the second highest exemption rate among the county’s public schools — with 8 percent (six students) out of 80 being exempt from vaccinations.

The purpose of childhood vaccines is to protect against contagious diseases, said Dr. Karen Smith, Napa County’s Deputy Director of Public Health. For these diseases, vaccination not only protects the child who is immunized, but also helps protect children with weakened immune systems — or others who can’t get the vaccines for medical reasons, Smith said. 

“When a high percentage of children in a school are protected through vaccination, it is difficult for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible children left to infect,” Smith said. “This can effectively stop the spread of disease in that school.”

Calls to Stone Bridge School officials for a possible explanation about the low vaccination rates were not returned.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, unvaccinated children were more likely to be male, white, belong to households with higher income, have a married mother with a college education, and to live with four or more children.

The study showed that parents who exempted their children from vaccines were more likely to think that their children had low susceptibility to diseases and that the severity of the diseases was low. Those parents were also less likely to trust the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.

Parents of exempt children also tend to gather health care information from the Internet and have providers who offered complementary or alternative health care, according to the study. The most frequent reason for nonvaccination was concern that the vaccine might cause harm.

Personal Belief Exemption

The protection provided by vaccines has substantially reduced cases of pertussis, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases — but that protection has also faded people’s memories on the dangers associated with these illnesses, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Measles, for example, is a highly contagious disease with a high rate of serious complications, Smith said. About 30 percent of people with measles will develop one or more complications — including pneumonia, which may lead to death in young children and ear infections which may lead to permanent hearing loss. About one child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain which may lead to death or permanent brain injury.

Napa County schools, overall, have high immunization rates and low numbers of parents who opt out by using the personal belief exemption, Smith said.

“Unfortunately, there are a few schools in Napa County where there are higher numbers of unvaccinated children because of these Personal Belief Exemptions,” Smith said. “This is of concern because outbreaks of contagious diseases, including pertussis, are more common in schools with higher numbers of unvaccinated children.”

This is one of the main reasons for California’s new Personal Belief Exemption form, which requires parents to first see a health care provider who will discuss with them the reasons for vaccination and the risks of not vaccinating, Smith said.

“It is very important that parents make an informed decision if they are considering not having their children protected through vaccination,” Smith said.

The form — which became a new requirement on Jan. 1 — must be signed by both a health care professional and a parent or guardian.

The form acknowledges that a health care professional has provided information to the parent or guardian regarding the benefits and risks of immunization, including the health risks to the student and the community as a result of not vaccinating, according to the California Department of Public Health.

High vaccine coverage within a community is “extremely important” for children who cannot be vaccinated — including children with medical problems and those who are too young to be vaccinated, according to the study from the New England Journal of Medicine. These groups are more susceptible to complications from infectious diseases and depend on the protection provided by the vaccination of other children.

“Immunizations save lives and prevent long-term disability,” Smith said. “Childhood immunizations protect the child that has been immunized, that child’s family and the community.”

Immunization rates statewide

For the 2013-14 school year, 90.2 percent of the 533,680 students enrolled in kindergartens statewide had received all required immunizations. Across California, 3.15 percent of students had a personal beliefs exemption, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

Napa County, as a whole, had a slightly higher immunization rate than the state — with 92.8 percent of its 1,737 kindergarten students receiving all required immunizations.

Napa also had a higher immunization rate than some of its neighboring counties — including Marin (with 80.2 percent) and Sonoma (with 89.5 percent). Solano County’s kindergarten immunization rate was slightly higher than Napa’s with 94.6 percent, according to data from the California Department of Public Health

Over the past five years, the number of California kindergarten students with all required immunizations has decreased slightly — from 91.1 percent in the 2009-10 school year to 90.2 percent this school year. Meanwhile, the percentage of students receiving a personal beliefs exemption has increased annually over the past five years — increasing 1.2 percent since the 2009-10 school year.

By the end of March, the California Department of Public Health had received reports of 49 confirmed measles cases for 2014. This time last year, only four measles cases had been reported in the state.

While no measles cases have been reported in Napa this year, some Napa residents may have been exposed to the disease outside of the county, Smith said.

Pertussis — also known as whooping cough — claimed the life of a Riverside County infant in February. It was California’s first confirmed death from the disease since 2010  — a year that the state experienced a pertussis epidemic, which included the deaths of several infants.

When the epidemic occurred, the National Vaccine Information Center — a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing “vaccine injuries and deaths” — posted a lengthy article stating that “inaccurate” and “misleading” information about pertussis was being disseminated by the media, as well as medical doctors, “who should know better.”

“Many American doctors are ‘unapologetic’ mandatory vaccination advocates because that is what they are told to be by public health officials and leaders in major medical organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association,” the article stated.

“The truth is, vaccines are not safe for everyone and they do not work for everyone. When doctors only tell half the truth about vaccine benefits and risks, people can sense it,” the organization said.

According to the California Department of Public Health, high immunization rates in California are what’s kept preventable childhood diseases at record lows during the past 20 years.

Since 2000, when measles was declared eliminated in the U.S., for example, the number of cases in California for an entire year had ranged from four to 40 cases. In that time, almost all measles cases were linked to travel to parts of the world where measles still circulates.

Among the 49 cases reported this year, 11 patients had traveled outside of the country. Of the patients without international travel, 30 had contact with known measles cases, three had contact with international travelers and five are under investigation to identify potential sources.

“Vaccination is especially important this year,” Smith said. “In addition to continuing to see cases of pertussis and chickenpox in Napa, for the first time in many years, we are seeing increased numbers of measles cases in California, including many in the Bay Area.”

Copyright 2016 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. valleygirlnvs
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    valleygirlnvs - April 12, 2014 1:44 pm
    This is a really good topic and should be discussed more! Thank you for bringing it to light.

    I recently read a great article on this topic. Check it out.

  2. Michael Haley
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    Michael Haley - April 12, 2014 1:56 pm
    I think kids should get vaccinated, I had vaccinations when I was a kid in the 50's, and didn't have any problems with them.

    Having said that, I talked to a health care professional I know who is critical of the vaccinations and he said that when I was a kid I got 3-4 of them, measles, mumps and polio is what I recall. He said now they get something like 35 of them, often all at once, which he believes makes a big difference.

    People over time have become wary of big pharma too, making money pumping all these drugs into us that we may not need so they can make money. That's what happens when you are dishonest, people stop trusting you.
  3. BlueLight
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    BlueLight - April 12, 2014 3:59 pm
    Ever seen the stats on ADD and autistic children and the association with vaccines? Highly interesting
  4. 1Mom23
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    1Mom23 - April 12, 2014 5:41 pm
    My child was diagnosed with Pertussis and THE ENTIRE FAMILY (vaccinated) had to go on a round of antibiotics because (according to the physician and CDC) the bacteria strains change over time, essentially rendering the vaccines worthless. The only people benefitting from mandatory vaccinations are pharmaceutical companies. Thinking parents do research, and know facts. Bravo for those willing to research, think, and take a stand for their children.
  5. naparealestate
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    naparealestate - April 12, 2014 6:05 pm
    Highly interesting in that they've all been debunked as garbage. There is absolutely no link between ADD, autism, and vaccines.
  6. naparealestate
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    naparealestate - April 12, 2014 6:08 pm
    We have raised our three children until recently in the Napa Waldorf community. It's a loving, kind, wonderful environment in which to educate and raise children….

    That said, I believe many of my fellow parents are misguided in their refusal to vaccinate their children. There is a place for the natural world and a place for the man-made world. Your children's health needs to span both...
  7. naparealestate
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    naparealestate - April 12, 2014 6:15 pm
    Your comments are ignorant and off base. Children do not get "…something like 35 of them, often all at once…" Not even close.

    Children get 1-3 shots per doctor's visits. There are combo shots so maybe a child receives 4-5 max per visit (a pediatrician could better validate the exact number). And every Pediatrician in town will for no additional cost spread the shots out between doctor's visits so your child could receive a single shot per visit if you so choose.

    And finally, there is little profit in vaccines. So "big pharma" is not the one pushing vaccines. It's the Pediatricians who have seen the data, seen the diseases, and know vaccines are good medicine. Oh and by the way, the pay rate for Pediatricians lags other specialities so Pediatricians aren't in it for the money either...
  8. Michael Haley
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    Michael Haley - April 12, 2014 11:16 pm
    thanks for the info, it was a doctor who told me that. I haven't studied it myself.
  9. napuhmom
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    napuhmom - April 12, 2014 11:40 pm
    Thank you. To me this goes along with the anti testing, and GMO. I am middle of the road on that mainly because I can't find any good UNBIASED reports and people on the anti GMO are soooooo vigilant, so fierce...but 95% do not even REALLY UNDERSTAND GMO. As I stated I am undecided. At my job I hear confusion/ignorance and straight up clueless as to what is Really going on.

    Back to the vaccines...IS want to see some REAL doc when kids were little was DR. SARAH MARTIN, loved her. And she would not give the live polio, but rather than risk the 1 in a (???dont have ##) chance with the live drops.
    All this conspiracy about the big greedies, government, pharmaceuticals is over blown, not to mention dismal. I refuse to believe that all the government, scientists who develop meds, doctors and hospital staff are ultimately out to secretly hurt our Children for a dollar.Having said all that, I love Stonebridge. My kids got shots, yours didnt! NP :)
  10. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - April 13, 2014 6:39 am
    The diagnostic criteria for ADD and autism have been political footballs for quite some time, often lowered or changed for a variety of reasons or motivations. Any connection between vaccinations and these conditions is garbage science at its worst. An adult who refuses to get their child(ren) vaccinated should be held legally liable if another child contracts that otherwise preventable disease.
  11. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 13, 2014 8:32 am
    Can you provide some examples? Can you cite double blind studies between vaccinated subjects and non vaccinated? Doesn't that seem like a basic necessity in assuring efficacy and safety? Also how many of us have heard that many of the diseases that we are told were eliminated by vaccines were actually nearly eliminated shortly before vaccines appeared because of the advancement in hygiene and other factors which greatly reduced the incidences of these diseases
  12. glenroy
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    glenroy - April 13, 2014 9:16 am
    Agree....though I must admit there is room for concern with a state and federal government that wages war against those opposed to their politics of corruption and or merely because you are willing to protect your children/family by whatever legal never really knows either way and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

  13. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 13, 2014 12:20 pm
    Whether the expected type of clinical trials exist or not is not a matter of conspiracy unless you choose to make it one. So the question, or challenge remains on the table, 'Do double blinded controlled studies exist for vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations or do they not"? No one has claimed this is a conscious malicious practice by MD's. They have been trained to believe what they believe. If there is any special critical thinking training given to them in medical school please let me know? While they may have been heavily trained they are not any different from the rest of us in terms of believing what experts tell us. So you can of course refuse to believe anything you want. But you might want to just consider the fact that no significant studies exist that legitimate the safety and efficacy of GMO or vaccines. If you want to trust the experts great, but please do not tell me I should do so without them presenting the standard evidence to prove their claims
  14. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - April 13, 2014 2:22 pm
    Diseases are never eliminated. We enhance our immunity to them through science and good medicine. The calculating British researcher who started this entire autism/vaccination baloney is now in prison. He was working with a drug manufacturer that wanted to foist their own special vaccine upon the public. Their illicit marketing approach was to make the public afraid of all the others. Results from his studies were completely bogus.

    Many blind studies were required of drug manufacturers & government verification groups long before most of these vaccines could be used. They have proven safe for the vast majority of humankind. Many studies were also done after the bogus Wakefield study and they also completely proved the efficacy of these vaccines.

    It speaks volumes about the supposedly well-educated parents in well-to-do communities who have fallen into this trap of believing dangerous urban legends passed around the internet.

    Educate yourselves & quit endangering your kids' lives.
  15. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - April 13, 2014 2:47 pm
    Why do you think flu shots vary each year? They try to stop these viruses as they evolve with drugs that account for the evolutionary changes. You think the doctors & CDC don't understand this?

    So if the vaccines are so worthless how do you explain the world wide success of practically eliminating most of these diseases in nations where thorough public vaccination is commonplace. For economic reasons, third world nations are still rife with these diseases and are often the incubators of new strains.

    Unfortunately you haven't researched as well as you should. Your bias is apparent. At least thanks for complying with the vaccination for pertussis, thereby NOT spreading it to others.
  16. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - April 13, 2014 2:51 pm
    Are you suffering from illogicossis?
  17. Crosscountrykid
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    Crosscountrykid - April 13, 2014 6:54 pm
    You might also want to look at the stats on the increase in vaccination rates and the decrease of polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps, and many other diseases almost to the point of eradication. Highly interesting.
  18. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 13, 2014 7:06 pm
    Actually there are several instances where only vaccinated children came down with the disease they were supposed to be vaccinated against. The argument that non vaccinated children are putting others in danger is absurd. First in that there there is no real evidence it provides protection. And then of course if it does provide the protection you claim, then why worry so much about possible exposure. Eliminating which diseases? Small pox is your best case and there are those who will argue small pox was conveniently named chicken pox after the vaccine was administered. Even if we were to accept that vaccines may have prevented a disease, which is still plenty suspect IMHO, that does not answer whether the immune system in general has been weakened bu the vaccine
  19. kaj napa mom
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    kaj napa mom - April 13, 2014 9:35 pm
    If your child(ren) is vaccinated, and mine is not, what is there to worry about if the vaccine really works? They are protected! It is a parent's right to choose as they see best for their child, on either side of the topic.
  20. kaj napa mom
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    kaj napa mom - April 13, 2014 9:37 pm
    What about the stats for improved sanitation, better diet and exercise?
  21. kaj napa mom
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    kaj napa mom - April 13, 2014 9:43 pm
    What about the fact that neither the government or the pharmaceutical companies can be held legally or financially liable for reactions that people might have from the vaccine? These are mandated medications starting from the first hours of life and there is no responsibility if something goes wrong. In what other industry does this occur in? This is unethical and cause for concern.
  22. MyWrites
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    MyWrites - April 13, 2014 11:19 pm
    This is why...

    When people don't take this seriously, this is what happens.
  23. kaj napa mom
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    kaj napa mom - April 14, 2014 9:07 am
    MyWrites, This article states that 90% of those vaccinated against measles will get it anyways. Why not skip the chemicals and go for natural immunity?
  24. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 14, 2014 10:06 am
    I hope I can politely suggest this case is almost meaningless. A good scientific report would state exactly how many folks at the church were not immunized and what amount were. Then take those statistics and apply them in regard to who actually came down with the measles. Then we could make some meaningful conclusions about vaccine effectiveness. Additionally. there is the question about whether a significant risk exists for the measles in healthy people. Compare this to the admitted risk by the CDC that measles vaccine will result in encephalitis in 1 in 1,000 people. Further contracting the measles, especially in children, has significant positive effects on the long term functioning of the immune system

  25. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 14, 2014 10:11 am
    Also I need to reiterate, since it was not addressed, that there is no significant testing or evidence in regard to the long term effects from vaccinations. That is a different question than whether it prevents a relatively harmless disease.
  26. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 14, 2014 1:59 pm
    Since you recommend reading for others here is some for you. It calls into question about your claims. i felt your response deserved special attention since you seemingly want to tell how other people to raise their children based on unproven science. Indeed the pro vaccination crowd may raising children with compromised immune systems which may be more susceptible to super bugs and actually being the carriers of more dangerous disease's that non vaccinated children

    Lets not forget that the pharmaceutical companies have had special legislation passed that protects them from lawsuits including wrongful deaths. So they get their funding to create their products without our consent, create products which do not go through standard testing, refuse to tell us what is in many vaccines, insist known toxins are not a problem, insist that those who do not use their products are creating a danger to society, and then are immune from lawsuits.Pretty sweet deal
  27. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 14, 2014 2:02 pm
  28. Loco Yokel
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    Loco Yokel - April 14, 2014 6:50 pm
    When i ask if you can cite studies, it does not really refer to you just casually mentioning that you are sure they exist.Its instructive in revealing your belief system however. Surely if vaccines are available to the public then they have passed all the proper scrutiny and study. Not really. If you had cared to really investigate yourself, instead of lecturing others about their lack of investigatory vigor, you would have learned the reason that medical orthodoxy gives for no double blinded controlled studies. That reason is of course that it would be unfair or dangerous to not give a control group of children vaccines to compare with vaccinated children. Talk about self fulfilling prophecy.

    Dr Wakefield, who is neither in prison or the founder father of those who question vaccines, has a lengthy defense of the charges by he journalist. I have a lot of links to debates on the subject for anyone interested. Britain wanted their company to get the patent, and the Dr was in the way
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