That’s a weird sentence to start the news in 2019. But it’s true. There’s an outbreak of measles in modern day Washington. How did we get here… again?
Wednesday, the Seattle Times again rolled out the county’s illuminating dataset showing kindergarten immunization coverage rates for the 2017-2018 school year. Every couple of years when an outbreak flares again and people start talking about herd immunity — the point where enough people are immunized to protect those most vulnerable to infection — the same glaring red dot in the center of Capitol Hill draws attention and questions.
Why does 10th Ave E’s Bright Water School have some of the worst vaccination metrics in the city?
CHS asked the private Waldorf school about the numbers and a representative provided a letter sent to Bright Water parents by head of school Jayasri Ghosh. In the statement, Ghosh says the stats don’t accurately reflect the immunization rates at Bright Water.
“Since two-thirds of our 33 Early Childhood students at the reporting deadline were not yet 5, the age at which required vaccines must be documented, many had not received scheduled immunizations, suppressing the official vaccination rate for our kindergartners,” Ghosh writes.
Ghosh said that the school’s own review shows they still fall well below the herd immunity threshold — but they’re close and making progress:
A review of all vaccination documentation provided by our families from Early Childhood through Grade 8 shows that 87 percent of our students have received some of the required vaccinations and 67 percent have been fully immunized against mumps, measles and rubella. While our full compliance rate remains well below the 90 percent levels required for so-called “herd immunity” that will better protect our community, we are making progress and continue to take this issue seriously.
The stats, meanwhile, across Capitol Hill and Central District area kindergartens show there is also more work to be done beyond Bright Water. It’s part of a statewide trend, unfortunately. Washington ranks eighth in the nation for student vaccine exemption rates.
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