Vaccination rates are up overall in California (yay) – but not in Santa Monica. The number of kindergartners enrolled in school in Santa Monica actually fell this past school year (2018-2019), according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. This is disturbing. But a classic parenting approach calls for doling out praise as positive reinforcement. Therefore, Wilshire and I wish to thank the families who have taken shown the conviction to fully vaccinate their kids, and taken the time to report it properly to their children’s schools.

Kindergarten Vaccination Rates around Santa Monica and West LA during the 2018-2019 School Year.
These places should ALL be green, but they are not.

I also want to call out some impressive turnarounds from the 2017-2018 school year.

  • SMASH: This past year, over 95% of your kindergartners were properly vaccinated, up twenty entire percentage points. This is really interesting to me because it means I can actually seriously consider sending my child to your school. 
  • Citizens of the World/Mar Vista: Your rate is up from 66% to 92%. While not at herd immunity, you’ve made major progress! You guys are doing something different.. Fewer than 10 kids in your kindergarten class are not fully up-to-date on vaccines. It’s still about 5 too many, but I am still impressed and wish to commend you for all your hard work.

I am not sure what happened here:

  • Garden of Angels, a private school north of Wilshire Blvd. Their rate is under 60%. They enroll 30 kindergartners, of which only half provided records to prove they received all of their vaccinations. The only upside is that 95% of their students have their MMR, so while it’s unlikely a measles epidemic can explode at this school, the same cannot be said for polio. 

This is what Santa Monica preschool vaccination rates look like. Mt. Olive Preschool, a place I would’ve considered sending Wilshire to because they have a truly full day program, only has 70% of its students reporting as fully vaccinated. Perhaps there are more who are fully vaccinated but did not turn in their paperwork. Or maybe the school isn’t diligent in collecting and reporting this data. But given the kind of school-level scrutiny one can take here, it seems noteworthy to call out the schools that are actively trying to turn it around, like PS1 did a few years back.

Vaccination rates at Santa Monica preschools

Some other observations:

Which schools are more likely to lack herd immunity? Generally speaking, there’s a loose correlation between rates and wealth. Consider the story that can be told with these screengrabs from Santa Monica vs Van Nuys:

Santa Monica
Van Nuys

But there’s no fast-and-heavy rule about that.

What continues to be the only logical explanation for these disparities? It’s the State’s suspicion that there are families who are abusing the medical exemption provision of California’s current vaccination law – and doctors who are enabling this. 

As I’ve written before, we know that California’s existing vaccination law has made a substantial difference in keeping Californians safe. Vaccines are critical to maintaining health and wellbeing. Vaccines prevent diseases that cause real harm. When families decide against vaccinations for their healthy children, they chip away at community immunity which protects our neighbors and friends who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. We continue to need the power of state government to close these loopholes before we have yet another outbreak, and I hope SB 276 passes really soon.