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By Allison Jarrell

A new report from the Orange County Grand Jury shows that while the number of students vaccinated in the Capistrano Unified School District rose significantly over the last year, CUSD still has the second lowest percentage of vaccinated students in the county.

The report, released on May 15, is titled, “Ouch! – Now That Didn’t Hurt: The Implementation of the Vaccination Bill SB 277 in Orange County Schools.” The report examines how school districts across the county have adhered to new vaccination requirements for public schools. Senate Bill 277, which went into effect on July 1, 2016, eliminated personal belief exemptions from vaccinations. The law also applies to private schools, but according to the report, the Grand Jury does not have jurisdiction to investigate them.

Of the 12 Orange County school districts studied, CUSD was one of two districts that had an increase in the number of vaccinated kindergarten students but still remain below the “recommended herd immunity threshold,” which is 92-94 percent, as defined by the California Department of Public Health. The district had a 5.8 percent increase in vaccinated kindergartners between the 2015-16 school year and 2016-17, taking the total percentage of vaccinated kindergartners from 84.4 to 90.2. The percentage of conditional kindergarten students in CUSD—those who don’t meet all the vaccination requirements—decreased from 4.7 percent in 2015-16 to 3.9 percent in 2016-17.

The only district with a lower percentage of vaccinated kindergarten students is Laguna Beach, with 85.6 percent in 2016-17.

Overall, the Grand Jury found that while the new vaccination requirements were expected to be troublesome for school districts, public school enrollment “remained essentially unchanged” with no decline of kindergarten enrollment in 2016-17.

The Grand Jury concluded its report with two recommendations, the first being that each school district continue to track students with “grandfathered personal belief exemptions to ensure that these students have the required vaccinations before they reach the next reporting levels.” The second recommendation was that districts continue to “monitor student vaccination percentages to maintain the threshold defined by the CDPH.”

To view the complete report, visit www.ocgrandjury.org.

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