Schools falling behind on vaccination rates
Most Lake Havasu City schools have fallen behind in student immunization rates, according to statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Arizona is already fighting an uphill battle to encourage immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. According to a health department report released April 12, the state’s vaccination rates continue to decrease. That means administrators are allowing more unvaccinated students to attend school.
The report said that for the third year in a row, non-medical exemption rates — the percentage of students exempt from one or more vaccines — increased across all age categories.
For example, the report said the MMR vaccination rate fell to 93%. That is below the 95% considered necessary to protect a community from rapid spread of infection in the event of a measles case in that community.
In most Arizona counties, the MMR coverage rate is an issue. Nine out of the state’s 15 counties fall below the 95 percent threshold. Mohave County is in that group, at 88.4%.
In Mohave County for the 2018-19 school year, the percentage of students fully immunized are:
- DTaP 88.4%
- Polio 90.5%
- MMR 88.4%
- Hepatitis B 91.5%
- Varicella 91.8%
In Lake Havasu City, kindergarten immunization rates are wildly inconsistent from school to school. The highest percentage of immunized kindergarteners for DTap was 100% at Starline Elementary. The lowest was 50% at Havasu Preparatory Academy. DTap immunizes against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
The highest MMR percentage was at Oro Grande, with 98.1%. The lowest was 63.3% at Havasu Preparatory Academy. MMR immunizes against measles, mumps and rubella.
The immunization data is obtained through an annual survey that schools and child care facilities submit to the Arizona Department of Health. It assesses coverage and exemption data from child care/preschool (18 months and older), kindergarten, and sixth grade. It is intended to be a representative sample of immunization coverage in Arizona.
Arizona law requires that all children attending school or child care must obtain certain vaccines, unless they are exempted by a doctor for medical reasons or by a parent for personal or religious reasons.
Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, has been reported as saying that vaccination rates are troubling. He suggested a solution.
“I just don’t see any other alternative than to get rid of the personal exemption,” he said.
This year, 17 cases of mumps and one case of measles have been confirmed in the state, according to the health department. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2019, more than 555 cases of measles have been reported in 20 states.
Kindergarteners’ vaccination rates reported by Lake Havasu City schools for the 2018-19 school year include:
Havasu Preparatory Academy
Calvary Christian Academy
MMR 82.6 %
Pam Ashley can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 230 or firstname.lastname@example.org.