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Health data say Glendale Unified kindergarten students are generally well vaccinated

Horace Mann Elementary
Horace Mann Elementary’s kindergarten program had the lowest vaccination rate among kindergarten programs in Glendale Unified.
(Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Newly released data from the California Department of Public Health list 17 kindergarten programs among Glendale Unified’s 20 elementary schools as safe in terms of preventing an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles. District officials claim three additional schools labeled as “vulnerable” reached the safe status by winter.

Newly released data from the California Department of Public Health list 17 kindergarten programs in Glendale Unified’s 20 elementary schools as safe in terms of preventing an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases .

District officials claim three additional schools labeled as “vulnerable” reached the safe status by winter.

Information for the just-concluded school year, available at shotsforschool.org, is broken into four categories.

Kindergarten programs with 95% to 100% all-required-vaccination, or ARV, rates, which the World Health Organization says is necessary to maintain “herd” immunity — which means a student who, for whatever reason, cannot be immunized is still safe because all of the other students are vaccinated for diseases such as measles — are designated in the best or “safest” category.

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Below that, schools are “moderately vulnerable” for an outbreak at 94.9% to 90%, “more vulnerable” at 89.9% to 80% and “most vulnerable” under 80%.

The ARV rate measures if students have received required vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella as well as varicella, commonly known as chicken pox.

Even with 85% of Glendale Unified’s kindergarten programs listed as “safest,” the district still reported 30 cases of pertussis, known as whooping cough, last school year, according to district figures provided to the News-Press.

Should a child present any symptoms of a communicable disease at any district schools, “the district follows the direction of the L.A. County Public Health Department,” said Kristine Nam, Glendale Unified’s communications director, in an email.

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“The child is excluded from school until cleared by a physician and any students who may have come in contact with the infected student are notified in writing,” Nam said.

“Additionally, our district health services coordinator reviews the immunization status of the students who may have been exposed and calls the parents or guardians to request they immediately contact their primary-care physician,” she added.

The district also contacts the county department of health, Nam said.

Vaccination information posted by the state health department was submitted by California school districts and private schools during the fall and does not include actions taken by schools since then.

“This is a snapshot of the compliance numbers,” Nam said. “It does not reflect the school’s ultimate compliance percentages after our staff has worked with our conditionally enrolled students to meet the vaccination requirements.”

Glendale Unified, like most California districts and private schools, allows students missing one vaccination to be enrolled conditionally with the understanding that those children would receive their shot soon.

Horace Mann Elementary School had the lowest vaccination rate at 89%, which places its kindergarten program in the “more vulnerable” category. Vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis were at 91% at Mann, which marked the school’s lowest individual rate.

“Although Mann Elementary had a higher rate of conditional enrollments at the beginning of the school year than other schools in the district, the school had a 99% vaccination compliance rate by Jan. 1,” Nam said.

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Mann’s 89% rate, however, marked a drop in similar data previously submitted by the school. Its ARV rate was 95% five years ago and 99% during the 2008-09 school year.

“District staff will be providing additional support to Mann to monitor families whose children have been conditionally enrolled to ensure students receive the necessary vaccinations and that the relevant data is [put] into the students’ health records in a timely manner in order to be counted for the county report,” Nam said.

Beyond Mann, the kindergarten programs at Keppel and Glenoaks elementary schools each posted a 94% ARV rate, which left them “moderately vulnerable.”

“Compliance numbers would be different and reflect more positively the diligence of our school-site health clerks if the report was due a little later in the school year,” Nam said.

“For example, Keppel and Mann Elementary had a kindergarten vaccination compliance rate of 99% by Jan. 1,” she added.

The news comes a few months after five measles cases were confirmed in Los Angeles County, with a Glendale taco stand listed as a site of potential exposure.

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