Berkeley Rose Waldorf School has a 29 percent measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccination rate, according to the 2017-18 report on the Immunization Status of Kindergarten Students on the California Public Health website, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
According to the California Department of Public Health website, there have been 40 confirmed cases of measles in California. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, measles can spread for two reasons: an increase in the number of travelers contracting the disease and bringing it back to the United States and the spread of measles in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
Professor of epidemiology at UC Berkeley Arthur Reingold said that as a public health professional, he is “very concerned” about schools that have percentages of unvaccinated students similar to percentages present at Berkeley Rose Waldorf School. According to the CDC website, some children should not get the MMR vaccine or should wait to get it if they have life-threatening allergies, weakened immune systems or tuberculosis, among other reasons.
Measles was declared eliminated in 2000, according to the CDC website. The website showed that despite that fact, this year has seen the most cases of the disease in the United States since 1994. From Jan. 1 to April 26, 704 cases of measles have been confirmed in the United States, according to the CDC website.
Alameda County has no reported accounts of measles cases this year, according to the California Department of Public Health website. There are, however, reported cases in San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and Sacramento County.
“There have been many large, well-conducted studies testing the hypothesis that children have more of a chance of getting autism,” Reingold said. “Every one of these studies show that there is no increased risk of autism from getting the MMR vaccine.”
According to the CDC website, most people who get the vaccine do not have any problems, and the vaccine is “much safer” than the diseases it protects against.
Reingold said many people think that measles is a benign childhood illness because it was common in the past. In wealthy countries with well-nourished children, 1 in 1,000 children with measles will die, according to Reingold. He added that two or three children per 1,000 will have serious long-term effects.
“Concern about and failure to vaccinate is not an issue just in Berkeley or Marin or Brookland,” Reingold said. “This is really a wider phenomenon in society, but it does tend to cluster in certain areas and in certain schools.”