By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
As students flock back to the classroom this week, a Palisadian school is once again among those that medical experts deem at increased risk of disease outbreak due to low immunization rates.
Statistics released by the California Department of Public Health reveal that 23 percent (six of 26) of the kindergartners at Westside Waldorf School on Sunset Boulevard lack full immunization ahead of this school year.
The Waldorf School was also highlighted in a 2015 report by the Palisadian-Post on local schools with low vaccination rates.
A state law enacted that year disallowed parents from citing religious or personal beliefs as a reason for not having children vaccinated, but a clause waiving the requirement for students with a medical exemption—usually for a severe allergy—leaves a route for bypassing immunizations. Previous exemptions are also grandfathered in.
Kindergartners at other Palisadian schools are in line with medical recommendations: Palisades Charter Elementary and St. Matthew’s Parish schools had zero medical exemptions this year, and Canyon Charter Elementary, Marquez Charter Elementary, Corpus Christi Elementary and the Village schools had less than 5 percent exemptions.
State health experts say the ideal rate of immunization is 95 percent or higher in order to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that more than 700 California schools had 90 percent or fewer kindergartners fully vaccinated.
Physicians say that number is at odds with the number of children with legitimate medical reasons to bypass the shots.
“They don’t add up,” Palisadian Dr. Damon Raskin told the Post of high exemption rates.
And of the anti-vaccine movement, which has linked immunizations to everything from gastrointestinal disorders to autism, Raskin urged parents to consult the science.
“There are no studies at all that show that any recommended childhood vaccine can cause any disease,” he said. “If the rates remain too low, then we’re putting all these kids at risk of diseases that should be preventable, things like whooping cough [and] measles.”
Palisadian physician Dr. Bren Boston added: “On the first day of school, each child will be exposed to many, many germs in the classroom … We can protect our children from many severe diseases using vaccines.”
Boston recommends consulting a pediatrician to determine which vaccines are appropriate for a child and at what time.
The Centers for Disease Control lists the risks of common vaccines as including fever, rash, temporary pain and stiffness, and, in some cases, severe allergic reactions, but states that “based on more than 50 years of experience with vaccines, the likelihood that [they] cause unanticipated long-term problems is extremely low.”
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