Thursday, June 02, 2011

Immunization exemption rates in Thurston County and the Olympia School District (or 41 percent of kindergartners in Ferry County don't have shots)

This foul-mouthed post on Washington leading the nation in people who don't get their children immunized made me wonder about the more local data. How many people send their kids to school without the right shots, thereby making it more likely that not only will their kids get sick, but the entire school will be less healthy.

Turns out, Thurston County has one of the highest rates of immunization exemptions in the state. Or, the highest number of parents and guardians consciously sending their kids to school without shots.

Here is a map by county, and by school district and a spreadsheet with all the data. Not only is Thurston County a leader, but Olympia School District is in the worst category as well, rating over 10 percent exemptions of the kids entering kindergarden.

By no means is Thurston County on the fringe here, there are some much worse offenders. Like Ferry County, where 41 percent of kids entering kindergarden have signed exemptions in the 09-10 school year. And, that was after the rate increased from 8.9 percent in 2004 to over 50 percent in 2008.

Also, Klickitat County's rate went from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 21.6 percent in 2009. As the post at the start points out "(t)he national target is 95 percent" immunized.

Here's a run down on the current situation of how a parent can enroll and child in public school without a full set of immunizations from a legislative staff report:
...a parent or guardian may exempt a child for one of several reasons including if a physician advises against a specific vaccine for a child, parents certify that the vaccine conflicts with their religious beliefs, or parents certify that they have philosophical or personal objections to the child's immunization.
The staff report is on ESB 5005, which made the following changes to the requirment to be excempt from immunization:
...a parent or guardian must present, to exempt a child from school immunization requirements. The form used to certify the exemption for either medical, religious, or personal objections must include a statement, signed by a health care practitioner, that the parent or guardian has been informed of the benefits and risks of the immunization to the child. Health care practitioners may sign forms at any time before the enrollment of the child in a school or licensed day care.

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