Immunization rates in the Blaine County School District continued their upward trend into the 2018-19 academic year, but still trail Idaho as a whole, according to a school immunization report by the state Department of Health and Welfare issued in February.
According to the report, 81.2 percent of public-school students were up to date on all require immunizations, up from 78.4 percent in 2017-18, and 77.2 percent for the two previous years. Adding in the 4.6 percent of students who have received exemptions from vaccines, 86.1 percent of Blaine County students are compliant with state law. (In Idaho, kids can be granted an exemption for any reason parents choose, medical or otherwise.)
The remainder of students have incomplete records or none on file. Under Idaho law, students without proof of immunity can be held out of school in the event of a disease outbreak.
Still, Blaine County trails the rest of the state, where 86.5 percent of students are fully immunized, and 95.2 percent are in line with the law, counting exemptions. Only 4.4 percent of students had incomplete records, compared to 13.5 percent locally.
Statewide, that figure translates to 8,900 students with incomplete records, according to the report. The Idaho Department of Education has set a goal for full immunization for greater than 95 percent of students.
“It is our mutual goal to protect Idaho’s school children from preventable illnesses,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra and Director of the Department of Health and Welfare Dave Jeppesen wrote in a joint Feb. 27 letter to Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes. “Research has shown that community vaccination rates of approximately 94 percent are necessary to protect against the spread of highly contagious, vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. If fewer than 94 percent of your students are immunized, some of them could be at risk of contracting potentially serious diseases. …
“Together, we can ensure students are healthy and protected against vaccine preventable disease.”