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Marin County Polio Vaccinations Well Below National Average

Polio vaccinations in Marin County are coming in well below the national average.

At some schools the number of unvaccinated kindergartners is nearly triple that of the rest of the country. At the Village School in Sausalito, 27 percent of the kindergarten class has had no polio immunization.

Parents of six of the 22 kindergartners have opted for the personal belief exemption from the polio vaccine.

There is no polio in Marin, no polio in the United States or North America, or South America for that matter. But polio victim Russ Ketron says that’s no reason to not get vaccinated.

“We are only a plane ride away from polio being here,” Ketron said. Ketron said he’s extremely disappointed to hear the numbers of unvaccinated children are up, just as total eradication is within reach.

“You and I don’t worry about small pox -- it’s gone Type 2 polio is gone, but Type 1, the most virulent, is still around in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said. “And it’s jumped into seven different countries last year and as I said it’s only a plane ride away,”

Ketron is adamant about the need to vaccinate, but the numbers here in Marin are a real point of contention. At Marin’s Waldorf School in San Rafael, the state Department of Public Health reported 52 percent of the students were unvaccinated.

The school’s business administrator Will Stapp told NBC Bay Area the state numbers don’t take into account that students with two of the three required polio vaccinations are still counted by the state as unvaccinated.

“If I see the polio rates are low then I’m going to put out a communication with the parents and urge parents to vaccinate,” Stapp said.

The county medical officer told NBC Bay Area his office surveyed 500 parents and found about 10 percent opted for a personal belief exception, but not for every disease. Eight out of 10 of those who opted out did have their children receive some of the vaccinations — just not all of them.

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