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For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2015
For more information contact:
Public Health Communications
(213) 240-8144

Public Health Releases a Report on Immunizations
Most parents believe vaccines are safe and want school children to be immunized

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) released a new report that includes results from a survey of parental knowledge and attitudes toward vaccinations, immunization facts, and recommendations. Included in the report is information that vaccines are among the most effective of all preventive strategies that protect the health of residents.

In California, 90% of kindergartners were up-to-date with required immunizations in 2014, and Los Angeles County was slightly below the state average with 86% up-to-date. Personal belief exemptions (PBEs) may be contributing to the declining vaccination rate for school required immunizations that has been observed recently. With this in mind, Public Health recognizes the importance of the Governor signing SB277 today. The new law will ensure that as many children as possible will be fully vaccinated at the time of school entry.

“The recent measles outbreak that resulted in more than 130 cases within the state of California highlights the importance of ensuring that as many persons as possible are vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” stated Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer. “Attaining the highest vaccination rates possible will ensure that our children and all residents are safe in the event that additional cases of measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases are imported in the future. We urge all parents and guardians to do their part to help keep our communities safe by vaccinating your children.”

Public Health’s report reflects that the percentages of PBEs vary geographically. This may negatively impact the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases in local communities and put individuals who are not and cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns and those with certain medical conditions, at risk for illness. According to a 2014-2015 State School Assessment, the West Service Planning Area (including cities such as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice) had the highest rate of PBEs at 6.4%, and the South Service Planning Area (including cities such as Athens, Compton, Crenshaw, Florence, Hyde Park, Lynwood, Paramount, and Watts) had the lowest at 0.1%.

The report also presents results from the 2011 Los Angeles County Health Survey, which surveyed parents’ knowledge and attitudes about immunizations and made geographic and socioeconomic comparisons. Highlights from the survey for Los Angeles County include:

  • Overall, 81% of parents felt it was safe to vaccinate a child under one year of age.
  • 68% of parents felt it was normal or acceptable for a child to experience expected side effects after getting a shot. Parents with higher levels of education and household income were more likely to accept the mild reactions that may occur after vaccinations, compared to those with lower education and income.
  • Over 74% of parents thought that parents should not be allowed to send their children to school without immunizations.

To view the entire report “LA Health: What Do Parents Think? Knowledge and Attitudes about Immunization” online, visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ha.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.