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Vaccination rates have increased for Placer County kindergartners while fewer parents are exempting their children from vaccines, according to new data from the California Department of Public Health.

Placer’s vaccination rate increased from 86.4 percent to 88.8 percent for the 2015-2016 school year. Kindergarten personal belief exemptions are down from 8 percent to 5.96 percent, one of the most significant improvements in the state.

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“Childhood vaccinations are the best and safest way to protect our children and communities from serious and often deadly diseases that are preventable,” said Dr. Oldham. “We are encouraged to see more kids getting vaccinated. Parents are getting the message: Vaccines save lives.”

The efforts of the whole community in Placer County, including public health, schools, physicians and health care providers and community-based organizations, played a significant role in the vaccination rate increase. Public message campaigns give parents the resources they need to make informed decisions about vaccinations and get appropriate care for their children.

Placer County public health officials anticipate vaccination rates to continue to increase due to the passage of California Senate Bill 277. Starting Jan. 1, parents or guardians of students in any school or child care facility, whether public or private, are no longer allowed to submit a personal belief exemption to a required vaccine.

“Our top priority is always the health and safety of our students and staff, and we responsibly follow and uphold state and federal law at our schools,” said Gayle Garblino-Mojica, Placer County superintendent of schools. “Coordinated communications with public health, school districts, parents and staff leading up to the law going into effect have no doubt helped us reach these favorable numbers.”

Despite the increase in vaccinations, there is room for improvement. Placer County is still slightly below California’s statewide average of 92.9 percent. Certain schools with very low vaccination rates are far more vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illness, such as measles and whooping cough. Fortunately, Placer County avoided involvement in a statewide measles outbreak last winter, but has seen outbreaks of whooping cough in recent years and the tragic death of two infants from the illness in 2008 and 2014.

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