A growing number of San Diego parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox, and whooping cough, leaving them prone to illness and endangering others, San Diego officials report.

The percentage of kindergarten students with a personal beliefs exemption for childhood vaccinations reached 4.5 percent this school year in San Diego. That means is that more than 1,900 of the 43,000 kindergarteners enrolled in local schools were missing one or more of the five recommended vaccines, the county said.

A child being vaccinated. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control
A child being vaccinated. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control

April 26 through May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week and the County Health and Human Services Agency is encouraging parents to make sure their children get vaccinations on the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A higher number of unvaccinated infants means more children are susceptible to disease,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Vaccines are safe and effective and the best way parents can protect their children against disease.”

Vaccinations help protect local children and the general public from disease.  High immunization coverage levels mean fewer people get sick.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend infants get immunizations at birth, 2, 4, 6, 12-15, and 18 months of age to protect them against many diseases, including measles, mumps and whooping cough. An annual flu shot is also recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

Parents should ask their doctor or clinic to check their child’s immunization record and make sure their baby is up-to-date.

Babies are not the only ones who should be vaccinated. Parents, older siblings, grandparents, health care professionals, and babysitters also need to be up to date.

For more information on immunizations and the diseases they prevent, parents should contact their health care provider, visit www.sdiz.org or call the County Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966.

— From a San Diego County news release

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.