Samoa measles outbreak triggers concerns over low vaccination rates at Hawaii schools

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 7:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A deadly measles outbreak that has gripped Samoa is triggering concerns about low vaccination rates in Hawaii.

The state Department of Health said Tuesday it is “definitely concerned” with the immunization rate of students starting public school.

Measles vaccination rates need to be at 93% to 95% of the population to prevent measles from spreading, experts said. But in Hawaii, only 91.5% of the state’s kindergartners received the measles vaccine.

“We send out notices to our provider community to make sure they vaccinate their patients in a timely manner,” said Janice Okubo, communications director for the DOH, in an email to Hawaii News Now. “We provide information and notices to get parents to vaccinate their children.”

[Read more: As measles death toll grows, some travelers urged to stay away from Samoa]

[Read more: Samoa’s mass vaccination effort continues as hospitals are overrun with patients]

The state Department of Education added that students must meet immunization requirements before they’re allowed to start school. But exemptions are granted for medical or religious reasons. In those cases, parents must provide documentation to the school.

As of April, officials reported that eight schools had 30% or more of their students unvaccinated.

The schools with the highest percentage of unvaccinated children include:

  • Haleakala Waldorf School: 52.7%
  • Malamalama Waldorf School (Big Island): 46.3%
  • Roots School (Maui): 41.5%
  • Alakai O Kauai Charter School: 40%
  • Kona Pacific Public Charter School: 37.4%
  • Montessori-Maui: 35.4%
  • Kilauea Elementary School (Kauai): 33%
  • Kanuikapono Public Charter School: 32.9%
  • Hanalei Elementary School: 29%
  • Sunset Beach Elementary (Oahu): 18.9%

See a county-by-county map of the data by clicking here.

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