SAN DIEGO -- The percentage of parents opting for the "personal belief exemption" to avoid vaccinations for their children in kindergarten has tripled in a decade, county health officials said Wednesday.
The result is that 4.5% of the 43,000-plus kindergartners in San Diego County schools are missing one or more of the recommended vaccinations, said public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. That totals more than 1,900 students.
Among the 14 diseases that vaccinations can prevent are measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox and whooping cough, Wooten said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends immunizations for infants at birth and then periodically later on.
"Immunizations can prevent disease, disability and, in the worst of cases, death," Wooten said.
The county health department provides free or low-cost vaccinations at its public health clinics for children of low-income families.