Target: Katie Braude, President of the Los Angeles County Board of Education
Goal: Enable schools to help students stay up to date on their vaccinations.
Public attention on vaccinations has focused on whether parents can opt out of vaccinating their children, or the “personal belief exemptions policy.” California is one of only nineteen states to allow parents to enroll their children unvaccinated in spite of public health laws. The outbreak of measles in Southern California this February 2015 has made the state more willing to abolish this policy. Before this change happens, though, the problem of under-vaccination in schools still puts children and their families at risk of infection. Push to eliminate under-vaccination and ensure all schoolchildren are protected against infectious disease.
Even for parents who do believe in vaccinating their children, the demands of supporting their family may easily cause them to lose track of their children’s shots. The time cost of commuting through Los Angeles traffic to a clinic may also be a barrier to parents’ getting their children vaccinated on time. It may come as no surprise then that in 2013, sixty to eighty percent of schools of incoming kindergarteners in a sample of LA schools had not received their recommended shots when they enrolled.
Schools, however, can play a role in making it easier on parents. Better funding for school nurses, the lack of which has been cited as a barrier to more widespread vaccination, is one concrete action school boards can take to make schools safer for children and their families. Schools would have more rigorous record-keeping. Nurses could conduct the vital follow-up to track students’ immunization status and inform families when their children are in need of their shots.
Please sign the petition below, and urge schools to keep better records of their students’ vaccination status. The health of these children and their loved ones is at stake.
Dear Ms. Braude,
I am writing in order to bring you attention to the problem of under-vaccination in Los Angeles County schools. As you are no doubt aware, the outbreak of measles this February 2015 at Disneyland has generated public attention around the controversial “personal belief exemptions policy,” in which parents can opt out of vaccinating their children in spite of public health law. However, less attention has revolved around the key role schools can play in protecting even those parents who do believe in vaccinating their children.
The most recent available review shows that although schools are required to report immunizations in the fall, about half of the 286 kindergarteners audited in 2011 had missed their vaccinations by springtime.
Better funding for school nurses would ensure more rigorous record-keeping. By conducting better follow-up, nurses could alleviate some of the burden on parents, for whom the demands of supporting a family can cause them to lose track of their children’s immunization status.
I urge you to consider the positive impact this action could have. Please use your leadership to make schools safer for children and their families.
[Your Name Here]
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