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Published: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Vaccination gap: State, county parents opt out at a high rate

Washington leads the nation in the percentage of kindergarten-age children who are allowed to skip one or more immunizations at the request of their parents. And Snohomish County's exemption rate is a little higher than the state rate. A new state law recently took effect with the aim of reducing these so-called exemptions by requiring consultations with doctors. Here are local, state and national data for recent years.

Snohomish and Island county school districts: In Snohomish County, exemption rates for K-12 students among schools that reported to the state Department of Health for the 2010-11 school year varied from 4.68 percent in the Mukilteo School District to 31.43 percent in the Index School District, which is a small district with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Not all schools reported vaccination rates for that school year.

The 10 local schools with the most exemptions:
District NameSchool NameK-12 EnrolledK-12 Exempt% Exempt
South WhidbeyWhidbey Island Waldorf School924852.17%
ArlingtonStillaguamish School36916644.99%
MonroeSky Valley Education Center88838243.02%
South WhidbeyWhidbey Island Academy Shared602541.67%
Oak HarborHome Connection2469036.59%
ArlingtonAcademy NW/Family Academy1996733.67%
IndexIndex Elementary351131.43%
CoupevilleCoupeville Middle School2467128.86%
EdmondsEdmonds Homeschool Res Center52113325.53%
MarysvilleGrace Academy3047524.67%

Stricter rule now in force: In the past, parents were able to have their children opt out for medical, philosophical or religious reasons. However, a new state law that went into effect July 22 requires parents seeking exemptions to consult with a medical provider about the benefits and risks of vaccinations and to have a signed letter from the physician to provide to child care centers or schools.

Washington exemption rates by county

In Washington, the statewide exemption rate for children from kindergarten through high school has more than doubled, growing from 2.6 percent in the 1997-98 school year to 5.9 percent in the 2010-11 school year.

Click on the graphic below to see exemption rates for each county in 2009-10, the most recent data available. Click here if you have trouble viewing the graphic.

*Data not available for Garfield County.

Exemption rates by state

Some 6.2 percent of Washington kindergartners did not provide immunization documentation for diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and whooping cough during the 2009-10 school year, the most recent nationwide data available. That's the highest of any state reporting that year.

Click on the graphic below to see exemption rates for each state. Click here if you have trouble viewing the graphic.
*Data not available for all states.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington state Department of Health

We'll have more about vaccination rates and what the numbers mean Sunday in The Herald and at
Story tags » Health

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