The Orange County Grand Jury issued a report on May 15, 2017, “The Implementation of the Vaccination Bill SB 277 in Orange County Schools.” This bill requires students within California to have been vaccinated before entering school and at certain grade thresholds. It also eliminates the parental personal belief exemptions to mandatory vaccinations. The government sought vaccination compliance before children attended school, fearing illnesses would spread through a vulnerable population with the potential to destroy entire communities. “Herd immunity” is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion (92% or above) of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination. Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) immunization (IZ) rate is 86.5%, which is the lowest rate in Orange County leaving our community at risk for an outbreak of a contagious disease. I sent an email to all of the school board members questioning the IZ policies at LBUSD and our low IZ rates. Three board members replied with comments, Dee Perry, Jan Vickers and Ketta Brown. I wonder if the other members have any concerns?
There have been several outbreaks of communicable diseases in the last few years partly because Orange County IZ rates have decreased below the “herd immunity” levels. There was the 2014 measles outbreak at Disneyland and more recently mumps at Chapman College. We’ve seen the OC rates of pertussis (whooping cough) increase to 407 cases in 2014 (source: Orange County Health Care Agency) and 275 cases of meningitis. I’m old enough to remember the polio epidemic in the 1950’s and was witness to the death and disabilities that this virus caused. I hope we never see it again, but with our IZ rates so low it could happen.
SB 277 states that all children entering day-care facilities, public or private schools in California be fully vaccinated against several communicable diseases and the only allowable exemption is for a medical problem. I hope that the parents of Laguna Beach see the importance of having their children fully immunized. If parents do not want to immunize their children, they cannot expect that those children should be able to attend public schools and put the other children at risk.
Marilyn Alexander, Laguna Beach
The author is a retired school nurse.