Experts push for more to get shots

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

The Tuolumne County Public Health Department, Office of Education and Sonora Regional Medical Center are launching a campaign to inform residents about the benefits of immunization.

Public Health Officer Dr. Todd Stolp and Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva kicked off National Immunization Awareness Month with a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, voicing their concern that county residents choose not to vaccinate at alarming rates.

Tuolumne County's public schools this year averaged 82 percent vaccination rates among kindergartners, whereas state public schools reached about 91 percent, according to the numbers schools report to the state.

More drastically, private schools in the county averaged 32 percent, whereas state private schools averaged 85 percent.

The percentage represents the number of students among the kindergarten population who are fully up-to-date on their immunizations.

Tuolumne County parents exempt their children from immunizations for personal beliefs five times more than the state average. About 3 percent of statewide parents decline the required immunizations for personal beliefs, whereas about 15 percent decline in Tuolumne County.

This needs to change, according to the immunization committee comprised of a handful of members from each of the three organizations above.

"There is no question that any individual living in a vaccinated community, who is vaccinated themselves, has significantly less risk (of disease), particularly compared to a person in a non-vaccinated community who isn't vaccinated," Stolp said.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 7, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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