Seattle Kids Have Lower Polio Vaccination Rate Than Rwanda

From KUOW:

In fact, looking at the latest reports of vaccine rates, health officials found that even more parents statewide are foregoing the whooping cough and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines.

Parents are also increasingly opting out of the polio vaccine. Seventeen years ago, 95.4 percent of kindergarteners in Washington state were vaccinated for polio.

It’s even more dramatic in Seattle, where 81.4 percent of kindergarteners have been vaccinated for polio. That’s lower than the 2013 polio immunization rates for 1-year-olds in Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Algeria, El Salvador, Guyana, Sudan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Yemen, among other countries, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Where are those rates the highest (from  2014-2015 school year in SPS)?  Greenwood, Orca K-8, Salmon Bay K-8 Pathfinder K-8 and Loyal Heights.

What's up with these K-8s?

Think polio is long ago and far away?  Not really (my own sister had polio and suffers to this day - many of her friends died).  This woman's story in the KUOW piece echoes my family's.

“When I would complain, be upset that I hurt, that I had to wear high-top shoes or a brace, Mother would say, ‘It could be so much worse. Think about Nora, the little girl who died. You’re able to walk,’” she said. “I grew up knowing that I was lucky. I still carry that with me. It could have been so much worse. Parents at that time were grateful that their children lived.”

“There’s a reason there hasn’t been polio since 1979, and that’s the vaccine,” Whitehead said, referring to the date when polio was believed to have been eradicated from the U.S.

To note, California has passed new laws that eliminate exemptions for religious convictions or "personal beliefs."  I hope Washington State does this. 

California’s previous policy had grown so lax that in some schools only half of the students have completed the required vaccinations, making those schools more susceptible to the spread of disease. A measles outbreak at Disneyland last December sickened 131 people in California, a fifth of them badly enough to require hospitalization, and infected 16 people in six other states as well. Most of those infected had not been vaccinated.


Anonymous said…
Personally I can understand forgoing the whooping cough or MMR vaccine but not the polio vaccine. It is the oldest and safest vaccine, and it is always a devastating disease on par with smallpox.

Did you know that California is also considering mandating vaccines for school teachers and other public employees? I don't support forced vaccination of anyone. Not all vaccines are created equal.


Anonymous said…
The internet has done many good things, but providing a bullhorn to anti-vaxxer quacks like Jenny McCarthy has not been one of them. How anyone can believe something a celebrity who hasn't even graduated from college spouts vs the advice from true medical professionals, with many years of schooling and experience, just floors me.

Anonymous said…
HP - the nursing facility I once worked at mandated vaccinations for all employees, including the Hepatitis vaccines once they came out. It was a condition of employment. It was not a big deal.

Anonymous said…
And they SHOULD, HP. Perhaps you're not old enough to remember the devastation caused by some of the diseases vaccinations prevent. I worked with a woman who survived polio from before vaccinations were widely available. She cold barely hobble with crutches and was lucky to be alive. My two nieces were hospitalized with chicken pox after the pox traveled to their throats and they could neither eat or drink without severe pain. My grandmother lost her mother in the flue epidemic of 1918. And I was born with hearing loss and a heart defect because my mother was exposed to German measles.

Vaccinations don't exist because of some Big Pharma conspiracy. They prevent real, painful and deadly consequences. And they only work best if the "herd" is all vaccinated.

Pro Vax
Lynn said…
I'm not surprised that these option schools have the lowest vaccine compliance rates. Until Washington's law is changed, this information should be included with the choice enrollment forms so that parents can make informed decisions for their children.

The district should not be assigning any students to special education classrooms in these buildings. (Obviously kids who receive special education services should have the same access to option schools as any other student - but kids who didn't request assignment to a low-vaccine school shouldn't be assigned to one just because there's a classroom available.) Pathfinder for example had four special education classrooms last year.

My kids haven't had teachers I'd suspect of being nutty enough to not vaccinate so I haven't worried about that in the past. I'd certainly support requiring public school employees (and volunteers) to provide proof of vaccination.
Anonymous said…
I really hope WA gets a law like CA just passed, and I would also support vaccination as a condition of public employment, especially for people working with the sick or children. I am certainly extremely glad my nurses had all had flu vaccines when I had a baby during a flu outbreak.

Lynn, I agree. Parents at any given school should know what the vaccination rate is if only to consider what it may mean should anything happen.

Sleeper,your story is exactly the story that needs to be told. Women with babies who go to pick up their older children at school could end up exposing them to kids who have not been vaccinated.
Anonymous said…
HOOK LINE AND STINKER, not taking the bait.

cocoa puffs
Jan said…
I think the pro-vax and anti-vax camps are talking "past" each other in a manner that is not moving the conversation forward.

By way of background: I believe vaccines are an incredible asset to the 20th and 21st centuries. I have taken every vaccine that has ever been recommended for me, and all my kids got all theirs, on time. My mother contracted polio at age 11, suffered through years of pain and died early. I have cousins who were deafened through measles, and have worked with children with serious lifelong neurological damage, also from measles.

I am told by my infectious disease doctor friends that HALF of all adult-onset cases of chicken pox wind up requiring hospitalizations (and adult-onset mumps is no walk in the park, either, I am told).

That said --

I know of a family whose child died of a reaction to its first whooping cough vaccine, at the age of 2 months.

I know another family where the father contracted Guillan Barre syndrome as a complication of a vaccine (swine flu? -- not sure), and will never have another pain- and fatigue- free day in his life.

I know a child who routinely almost dies from the injection of ANYthing -- including contrasts and dyes for medical procedures, etc. The child's immune system was wiped out by cancer (so yes, herd immunity is a big deal to them) but the pro-vaccine parents are now approaching the task of whether and when to revaccinate the kid with absolute terror.

When we compel vaccination -- to get its obvious benefits across a wide population -- we run right over the valid concerns of people like these, and their families. Frankly, I think we do far better with education campaigns, and targeted, logical consequences. For example -- I have NO problem -- NONE -- with requiring nurses and nursing home workers to get flu shots. Annual flu epidemics mow down frail elderly folks (especially those with other conditions) at a frightful rate. Would I demand that the average 25 or 30 year old get a flu shot? No. I would have no problem requiring infant day care workers to get whooping cough shots. Do I care if my kids' high school science teacher has one? No.

We know that vaccines save lives across a large population. We DON'T know about the specific effects of every vaccine on individuals or small groups (ask all the folks with egg allergies who had problems before they started screening for that issue in annual vaccination programs). And it is easy for those of us whose kids have never had a problem with vaccine to tell others to just shut up and get their shots! But I don't think that is right.

We need to debunk nonsense (Jenny McCarthy, etc.) when we come across it. We need to educate citizens to understand vaccines, their benefits, and their risks -- both individually and as a community (herd effects, etc.). But -- would I make the family whose dad will suffer lifelong effects from Guillain Barre get flu shots? Nope. Would I demand that the family of a dead 2 month old get their next child vaccinated against whooping cough at 2 months? No. My kids got their shots on time, but do I agonize if someone else wants to spread them out and get MMRs at 3 years instead of 18 months? No, actually. I am ok with that.

I think you make hard rules where the circumstances really justify them. And then you work hard to educate and influence people to make the right choices. But you don't coerce people to inject stuff into themselves and their kids if they have a bona fide reason to decline. And I think parents -- not the government -- ought to be the deciders.
Anonymous said…
I have been pro-selective vaccination long before Jenny McCarthy came on the scene. What Jan says makes a lot more sense. Education, not mandatory. For the record, my kids are vaccinated except for chickenpox which they had and we have avoided the HPV vaccine for the time being. We also never get the flu vaccine.

I have two different friends whose elderly parents were killed by the flu vaccine. For one friend, the doctor went so far as to advise her and her kids to never get the flu vaccine but he wasn't willing to give them a medical exemption.

There have been many studies that show if you educate people on vaccines rather than preach at them or belittle them by calling them anti-science or idiots, you get more people to vaccinate. People want to do what they believe is best for their kids and many people who have decided to not vaccinate, or selective vaccinate instead, have done research.

Jan, first of all, no law should ever make any child with medical issues have to take a vaccination. That is the only exception in the California law. I totally agree with it. I have not hear pro-vaccine parents want to take this exception away.

I know of a family whose child died of a reaction to its first whooping cough vaccine, at the age of 2 months."

Long ago when I lived in San Francisco, I recall reading an article about premature babies. The article was pretty clinical and clear; there are some number of babies that will die. Some because of complications of premature birth, some from vaccines, some from SIDS. I remember thinking, "What?" but it's a horrible truth. Do we want to strive to save every baby? Of course. But it is not the reality that it will happen. No one wants to be the one to lose a baby or child but medical science - across the board - cannot save everyone. (I know this too well.)

I also think the advocacy should come from the medical community to spread the shots out. I don't like these mega-shots for little kids either.

I think parents can absolutely say no to shots, for whatever reason, but always for a bona fide medical reason. But I also think since public education is "public" and for the greater good, then those children should not be allowed to attend public schools.
Anonymous said…
So MW, do you understand that you wont know if you need a medical exemption until you have an adverse reaction? For some people there's no second chance, once you're exposed your system is permanently compromised. You seem to think you have the right to force others to accept that risk.

Weird Logic

Anonymous said…
Food for thought...the outcome of a measles outbreak caused by an unvaccinated Utah family traveling to Poland and back.

And I fully support medical exemptions. I worked with kids who could not be vaccinated due to their medical conditions, and would die if exposed to the vaccines or many of the diseases we vaccinate for. This is also why I support getting rid of the personal belief exemption. We need to protect those children (and adults) who cannot be vaccinated.

Well, how do you know you need a medical exemption if you've not had a reaction? That would mean anyone could say "I fear a medical reaction so I don't want it for my child." That means anyone can get an exemption and we're back to square one.

I'm not forcing anyone to do anything but public entities have the right to think of the greater good. I expect them to do that in case of health and safety.
Anonymous said…
Ya CT, maybe you would have the un vaccinated wear a big yellow star?

H2O, that is a very offensive statement to make. We are going to have a civil conversation here and you try to sensationalize it again, your comment will be deleted.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps you should reflect on your our statements, you're shameless and self serving.

You and your minions are trying to shame and humiliate those who have a different belief system... sounds like 1941 all over again. I'm sorry you don't see the stupidity in your claims. You are one of the most arrogant bloggers there are.

Delete away
I don't even understand how my statements on vaccinations serve me or are "shameless." I have an opinion (based on facts) and I stated it.

Regrettably, I have no minons. It would make life easier.

Shameless 2 said…
The reason you can have a "different belief system" and not have your kids become ill or die from preventable diseases is because us shameless ones are vaccinating our children. You're welcome.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Between one commenter's linkage to not vaccinating his/her child with the Holocaust (which is a terrible, terrible insult to all who value humanity and to Jews) and name-calling, I am asking that person to not comment again.

You are entitled to your opinion but bombast and name-calling won't be allowed.
Anonymous said…
My kids haven't had teachers I'd suspect of being nutty enough to not vaccinate so I haven't worried about that in the past. I'd certainly support requiring public school employees (and volunteers) to provide proof of vaccination.

Hey Lynn, Thanks for being so flexible

Hey Lynn
Anonymous said…
WOW !!!
Does anyone think that "Belief Systems" trump facts and positions based on facts?

As fictional LA police detective Joe Friday said: "The facts, just the facts"

Or is it that everything is relative and there are no positions based on objective truth.... because everything is unknowable. Pass me a joint dude.

"to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
"to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."

Just like EDM adoption, right Dan.

Hey Dan
Anonymous said…
A troll is loose in the Shire!

Jan said…
Melissa said: "Well, how do you know you need a medical exemption if you've not had a reaction? That would mean anyone could say "I fear a medical reaction so I don't want it for my child." That means anyone can get an exemption and we're back to square one."

Technically, this is true. But practically speaking, the fact that a pretty big majority of kids ARE vaccinated (with pockets here and there of high anti vax sentiment) supports (I hope) what I believe, which is this:

Most parents, presented with the facts around vaccination, epidemics, side effects of the most severe diseases, the principles of herd immunity, etc., will make the "right" decision --meaning, they will consider that the likelihood the vaccine will harm their child is vanishingly small -- and the "good" of protecting both their OWN child from disease and being a member of the herd that protects kids with cancers, kids who are allergic to vaccines, etc. makes the decision not a hard one. I have no problem with unvaccinated kids being excluded from school if there is an outbreak, but see no reason to exclude them generally. I think this stuff has to be fact based, not "principles-based." For example, what if all schools said no one could go to school unless they had had last year's flu shot. Then, the shot turns out to have been minimally effective anyway. You put a lot of wear and tear -- and animosity -- onto a system when the government starts doing stuff like that.

On the other hand, there was a fairly big outbreak of whooping cough a few years ago. Even with my shots up to date (but old), I bailed from visiting friends with newborns -- because I am old enough that shots don't always confer robust immunity. It would NOT have bothered me that year if schools had elected to send home kids without whooping cough shots (or medical exemptions).

People are not all the same (either in terms of how they react to vaccines, and in terms of how they react to fears of vaccines, legitimate or not). But also, epidemics are not all the same -- and the shots themselves are not all the same, in terms of how much immunity they confer, and how likely they are to cause harm. I don't think the "medical exemption" is sufficient to cover everything -- because doctors don't always listen to parents' concerns about highly reactive children and fears of bad drug/vaccine reactions. Especially with a phalanx out there of sort of anti-fact anti-vaxxers beating their drums.

Finally, I also think the medical community needs to do a MUCH better job of outreach and education on vaccines. The really good doctors are doing this already, every day, in their practices, but the situation is not helped when doctors and public health personnel are not candid, or when they just dismiss anti-vax fears out of hand.

And (really finally) -- I think this entire debate shines a light on how important education truly is. We need to be raising kids who know how to identify an issue, frame it correctly, read to educate themselves (and know the difference between facts and inflated bunk), evaluate the various risks, and arrive reasoned, fact-based decisions. They also need to know if/when their fears/prejudices are causing them to make decisions on some OTHER basis -- because that self-knowledge is the beginning of change.
.."the fact that a pretty big majority of kids ARE vaccinated .."

And yet that number is going down on the West Coast. There is a percentage at which vaccinating kids is less useful.

"I have no problem with unvaccinated kids being excluded from school if there is an outbreak, but see no reason to exclude them generally."

And you would exclude them during an outbreak because...?

Jan, doctors don't always listen to parents concerns, that's true. But I'll bet doctors will tell you that parents don't listen either.

Agreed on the medical community and probably the feds and real public education on this issue.

But I cannot support "any reason you state as a parent" for a public entity for children.

It is not forcing anyone to do anything. We all make choices in life and this might just be one of those hard ones.

mirmac1 said…
Sorry, can't help it. Now, from the Onion and the Center for Disease Contraction and Preservation:
n said…
I'm a big fan of Robert Kennedy Jr. and he's studied and written a lot about vaccines and he completely supports vaccinations for all but is careful to demand that they be thimerosol-free. His work may not be new to you but I thought I'd post it just in case. He's done the deep research in his roles as a father and grandfather, and as a lawyer specializing in environmental protection and his work with the NRDC.

I think all kids coming to school should be required to be vaccinated. Just too risky considering the babies and toddlers I see everyday in the hallways of my school.
Anonymous said…
Kennedy's reputation is his name. he blames thimerosal for rising autism rates. Thimerosal was taken out of pediatric vaccines 15 years ago. Parents are wrongly refusing vaccinations based on this kind of mumbo-jumbo. Since then, areas where parents have been refusing vaccinations have turned into pockets of disease, like whooping cough. What's just too risky, n?

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dana said…
First, don't take your immunization rates from our school system's records - they are grossly inaccurate. Our school nurse, in her spare time, painstakingly goes through the written records and attempts to correct them. The school system has yet to send us an accurate statement on our child's vaccination record.

Second, medical exemptions are incredibly hard to receive. You have to prove direct causation and injury for each child. It's not enough that it correlates. And it doesn't matter if it is a sibling who had the issue. There's a reason only one family has won in vaccine court - their child happened to have had an MRI before the vaccine and another after and could prove causation and injury. We do not routinely scan the brains and bodies of our kids prior to giving vaccines, so we can't show that there has been a change. Also, almost all of the reactions take place after the child has left the doctor's office, so it is also difficult to show evidence that there was a reaction when it is only the parent to witness.

I think Jan is spot on. Educate. I am absolutely against forced vaccinations for every child. And it is only the business of our family and our healthcare providers who in our family are vaccinated with which vaccines. No one else's. Not even the school's.
n said…

I checked out CDC statistics and timeline and you're right. Thanks for the information.
Well, again, we're all in agreement - no forced vaccinations. Fine.

But a government entity dealing with children has got to think of the greater good - for the children they serve and our society at large.
Jan said…
Melissa: two thoughts. First, I think (and some pediatricians agree with me though of course many agree with you) that in the end, you will get more vaccinated kids through persistent and clear-sighted education than by attempted government coercion. But that is just what I think -- I have nothing to back it up.

Second, I would be curious to know whether the outbreaks we are currently seeing will change the minds of many. Not the really rabid anti-vaxxers -- but the people sort of floating along in their wake thinking vaguely that maybe, all in all, they won't vaccinate since they have never known anyone with any of these diseases. (I actually know several people who have used that rationale -- it has always baffled me, but whatever!)

I think that 80% of the anti vax movement is because so many people think these diseases really cannot ever come back. They don't know anyone who ever had -- diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, polio, etc. Not only has no one they know ever died or had complications -- no one they know has even had a mild case and survived just fine. So, they think, really how great could the risk be?

I really hope that the recent outbreaks will have the effect of making many people (those who have underrated the risk to their kids and society of NOT vaccinating, and overrated the risk of harm from getting vaccinated) realize that you can take an unvaccinated kid to Disneyland, and lose them to a disease that could have been prevented by a 2 minute shot in your pediatrician's office. I don't know. Maybe my faith in people is misplaced. Hope not!
Jan, I think the carrot rather than the stick always works best. I'm hoping our state or federal government will try to get the word out in new ways because what they are currently doing does not seem to be working.

And it's not just the diseases like measles that parents should brush off; I saw a CBS story about a woman whose child died from meningitis because she didn't get the Hib vaccination because a friend had told her all the vaccines were dangerous. That just didn't have to happen and with meningitis you have a very short window of time to get help to that child.

Lastly, I found this:

"To put it simply: complications are more likely to arise from illness than from vaccination."
Maureen said…
Reposting for Anonymous (You have to pick a name of some sort here.)

Anonymous said...
To the comment at the top about being willing to forego the whooping cough or MMR vaccine but not polio, I urge you to reconsider your position. The MMR and pertussis vaccines have been around for more than 40 years now and are very well studied. Measles is the most infectious virus known to man and would spread like wildfire if given the opportunity. (You can pick it up by being the in the same room as someone who had it, up to 2 HOURS later). The chance of a serious allergic reaction to the MMR is less than 1 in one million. is a good site for general vaccine information and you can look up each vaccine individually.
Nothing is 100% safe for anyone, but the benefits outweigh the risks by a large margin.

7/16/15, 2:38 PM
Maureen said…
I think vaccination should be required for entry into public school unless a doctor signs a medical waiver. I think pediatricians should refuse to keep on patients who refuse to vaccinate their kids on some schedule at least. If people want to risk their kids lives by refusing to vaccinate them, then they should have to face the complete cost of that decision and not inflict it on other people's children.

My kids are completely up to date on their vaccines but that didn't prevent my High School kid (who had had surgery earlier in the year and was still getting back to full strength) getting whooping cough this winter. The cough lasted for months, she missed tons of school and it will probably have a lasting impact on her academically. It doesn't help that HS teachers often grade based on attendance and kids have an incentive to come to school sick.
Maeve said…
Maureen - I totally agree. No the government should not force you to vaccinate your children, but if you don't, then no public school for you unless you have a medical waiver signed by a doctor. I'm so sorry about your daughter getting whooping cough.

lisamarie253 said…
So, I am assuming that you actually know how one contracts "polio" ? Answer : fecal/oral route
What year the last case of "wild polio" (the original form of the disease ) was seen in our country? Answer 7 decades
How the virus was irradicated before the "vaccine" . Answer : sanitation and clean water .
One last assumption here, you have researched the fact that the "polio vaccine" has caused new types of polio . There's now 3 types of polio. These did not exist prior to polio injection, btw. And do your research to find out this fact. The vaccine itself causes polio and 53K new diagnosis(s) of NPAPP have been established in India alone in a 13 month period. Do your research please, then comment on what you do know. Such as the injuries ipv&opv have caused, not talking "autism" here. This should REMAIN a choice of the parents! Not the government or anyone else! Brainwashing is prevalent and ignorance is bliss !

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