Amid measles outbreak, vaccination rates low in some private schools

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – A new report claiming some private schools have low vaccination numbers has some New York City parents on edge during a measles outbreak where children have gotten sick.

“It can change itself into something that they’re not immune to,” said Patricia Brown.

According to the New York City Department of Health, there are 21 cases measles case total now. 10 pediatric cases and 11 adult cases. The cases range from 3 months to 63 years old. A majority of the children were too young to be vaccinated or within the 12- to 15-month window when vaccination is recommended.

“There were some schools that were very, very low, much lower than recommended,” said New York Magazine editor Jebediah Reed.

In the midst of the outbreak, New York Magazine crunched numbers from the New York State Health Department.

According to New York Magazine, among the more than 800 private schools in the city, the overall immunization rate last year was 97 percent.

However, they found some 245 New York City private schools fell short of 95 percent vaccination rate.

Of those schools, 125 had rates below 90 percent.

Luke Tanner, 7, receives the combined Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination at an MMR drop-in clinic at Neath Port Talbot Hospital near Swansea in south Wales on April 20, 2013. Public health officials said on April 19 they were investigating the first suspected death from measles in Britain in five years, after an outbreak blamed on a campaign against vaccinations. More than 800 people have contracted the highly contagious disease in Wales in the past six months, centred around the southern city of Swansea. Marion Lyons, director of health protection for Wales, said it had now been confirmed that a 25-year-old man from Swansea who died on April 18 had measles, a full postmortem will be conducted to determine cause of death.  (GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)

“We’ve gotten a fair amount of anger, and on social media of people who feel not getting your kids vaccinated is endangering everybody else’s,” said Reed.

There are medical and religious exceptions allowed for public and private schools, according to the NYS Department of Health.

According to the NYC Department of Education, such requests are scrutinized very carefully and permitted only when standards for exemption are met. Students with exemptions make up about 0.2% of the DOE population.

The Brooklyn Free School, one of the hundreds mentioned in the NY Magazine report, told PIX11 News that the school complies with all NYS laws, and that the school cooperates with the NYS Health Department.

A spokesperson for the Rudolf Steiner School in NYC, said the school is working with the NYS Department of Health to update their statistic that the school feels is inaccurate.

The school is puzzled by the magazine report, and insists their vaccination is 90 percent — not the reported 74 percent.

The New York City Health Department said New York City private schools have an overall immunization of 96% (end of 2012-13 school year).

The Health Department is concerned about low vaccination rates at some private schools, as a large number of unvaccinated students pose a threat to all students – both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The Health Department said, to protect the health of students, staff and their families, all schools should ensure their students are fully vaccinated.

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