As Measles Spreads, Anti-Vaccination Parents Stay Mostly Silent

Marin County schools have some of the highest non-vaccination rates in California.

As the measles virus spreads, many anti-vaccination parents are turning to silence, concerned their decision will make them targets of others’ anger.

The question of whether to vaccinate has become a hot topic, especially in Marin County, where several schools have some of the highest non-vaccination rates in California.

The topic is on almost everyone’s mind at the New Village School in Sausalito, where roughly 50 percent of the students have not been fully vaccinated, according to the health department.

There are 14 shots that a child needs to get before entering public school. But parents are able to opt out of that by claiming to have a personal belief conflict.

Tony Martorana, who has a child enrolled at New Village School, is one of those parents. All he would say on the record is it’s a “personal decision.”

Martonana said he isn’t worried about backlash from other parents, and he is not worried about the 92 cases across California, but isn’t talking about why. “I can’t articulate that,” he said.

It’s not an uncommon response. Archie Douglas is the head of the Greenwood School in Mill Valley. About a quarter of the children at his school have not been vaccinated for measles. A much higher number was reported to the state, but Douglas said that was just sloppy accounting.

“We obviously will do a much better job in the future,” Douglas said.

Still, one out of four unvaccinated children is 10 times the national average.

Nationwide, immunization rates remain high. Among kindergartners enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year, the median vaccination coverage was 93 percent and higher for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and chicken pox.

The Bay Area has seen 14 measles cases, six of them confirmed to be linked to the Disneyland outbreak.

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