Thousands of children are entering kindergarten as school begins across the central San Joaquin Valley, and new changes to California’s immunization requirements mean that parents need to make sure their youngsters have all the necessary shots as they get ready to mix and mingle with their new classmates.
Almost 8,600 children entered kindergarten last fall at 493 public and private elementary schools in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties; a similar number are expected this year. In 375 of those schools, at least 95% of the kindergarten class met all of the vaccination requirements for school entry by the time schools were required to report to the California Department of Public Health.
Only seven Valley schools had fewer than two-thirds of their kindergarten students with less than a full slate of immunizations – shots to protect them from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; and varicella or chickenpox.
The Bee has compiled a searchable database, with information from the California Department of Public Health, where you can look up your child’s school to check kindergarten immunization rates from last fall. It includes 8,200 public and private elementary schools, and more than a half million kindergarten children, statewide. Use the dropdown and fill-in fields to find a school. Searches are limited to 250 results.
Schools in California are required to check immunization records for all new students coming into school for transitional kindergarten or kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as for students who are progressing into the seventh grade, according to the state health department.
Of the 8,200 California schools, there are 1,441 with fewer than 20 kindergarten students for which statistics are suppressed to preserve privacy. Sixty-six of those small schools, with a total of 518 kindergarteners, are in the Valley.
Statewide, 237 schools – including five in the Valley – failed to report their vaccination data to the state.
Nearly 7,000 kindergartners were enrolled last fall in the Fresno Unified School District – one of the four largest school districts in the state. Of the district’s 67 elementary schools that had more than 20 children in kindergarten, none had vaccination rates below 90%, and all but 11 schools had at least 95% of their kindergarten students with fully up-to-date immunizations.