Usually, about when there is something in the news about an outbreak around here, I'll go to the state Department of Health and find out what the vaccination rates are at our local schools (and here). This time around, there is a measles outbreak just about an hour south of us, so I thought it would be nice to narrow in specifically on exemptions (personal, religious or health) for the measles, mumps, rubella vaccination.
According to the most recent data, there are a handful of schools in the Olympia area with fairly high exemption rates for the MMR vaccine.
Percent exempt for measles, mumps, rubella
Percent with any personal and religious exemptions (not just MMR)
What leaves me scratching my head about this data is that when you parse out the medical and personal exemptions, they seem to follow the same general pattern. Schools with high personal/religious exemptions also have high medical exemption rates.
When I first started looking at this stuff, I assumed medical exemptions would be evenly dispersed across the area. It follows that since all of the schools that have high exemption rates are schools you either generally lottery into or opt into, that the personal/religious exemptions would gather there. In the same way that opting into certain schools is an expression of a family's choice, so is opting out of vaccination. But the medical reasons for not being vaccinated, I don't think, would be more general and would not necessarily be tied to a family's school choices.
If you're new to this issue or just need some background, here is some information you might find useful:
You've heard about herd immunity, or how the vaccination rate in a group of people that protects people who can't receive a vaccine. This is why a 16 percent exemption rate at ORLA or a 12 percent exemption rate at Lincoln are sort of scary.