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Got Your Shots?

By J.J. Gasparotti

A big thank you to the hordes of Wet Suit readers who descended on Andre’s Patisserie for last Thursday’s get together coffee. You provided some answers for Laguna’s problems and raised some new questions as well. The event was very informal for a reason. It seemed successful in getting folks to unwind and open up.

For those who attended, and those who wanted to, please send me your contact information and primary issue you’d like to discuss. My email is [email protected] I may reach out to you for a future column.

Everything revolved around the city’s problems. The Laguna Beach Unified School District and its elections for Board of Directors wasn’t mentioned at all. These offices are in a class of elections that slide under most voters’ radar. The hardest votes are the ones for directors of obscure special districts and for judges. Who are these people?

The ballot offers no clues with political party designations for these non-partisan positions. We’re left with voting for the incumbents, if there is no scandal, or perhaps we’ll rely on the voter informational mailers our mail boxes overflow with this time of year.

We’re down to 11 candidates running for three positions on the City Council, while there are five running for the three seats open on the school board. We’ll likely hear a lot about the council race and not so much about the school board. The school district’s budget is about two-thirds as big as the city’s, with 87 percent of that money coming from our property taxes. Their mission, educating our youth, is one of the most important public trusts. So why the lack of interest?

In the 23rd annual report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, the following metric stood out: 84.7 percent of kindergarten enrollees in Laguna Beach were up to date on required vaccinations. That’s well below the county average of 95.5 percent, and the level where the Herd Immunity Threshold kicks in and the disease may no longer persist in the population.

This high unvaccinated percentage increases the risk from diseases like measles, pertussis and mumps. They all have a Herd Immunity Threshold of 94 percent or above.

A large percentage of unvaccinated children is a strong indicator we may have a substantial population who chose not to vaccinate their children and free ride off the herd immunity. As the number of free riders increases, outbreaks of preventable disease become common and severe due to the loss of herd immunity. Maintaining appropriate immunity levels in our schools is the school board’s job and it might not be getting done.

J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Regarding school board elections I rationalize not doing the research to believing that people who have children in school should be the ones to make those decisions.

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