The number of Sacramento-area children starting kindergarten without vaccines soared 30 percent in the last school year, and the parents at the Community Outreach Academy near North Highlands are part of the reason why.
This fast-growing charter school caters to families from the former Soviet Union, and many of the parents distrust vaccines. In 2011-2012, they filed about 75 personal belief exemptions to avoid getting shots for their kindergartners. In 2012-13 that number rose to 118 – more than at any other school in the state. About 58 percent of kindergartners at the school have personal belief exemptions on file. And another 8 percent have personal medical exemptions.
“It’s a parent’s decision,” said Nadya Putyrski, whose children attend the school. Putyrski said she stopped vaccinating them two years ago, after scrolling the Internet and viewing videos about children who allegedly had bad reactions to their shots.
Health experts say the Sacramento region’s large immigrant population is one factor in the growing number of parents declining to get shots for their children. The number of children in Yolo, Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties starting kindergarten without vaccines jumped 30 percent, or by 350 children, in the last school year, according to new data from the California Department of Public Health.