Remember when you stayed home from school for five weeks with whooping cough? Of course not, because until a few years ago, modern science had all but back-burnered the illness. Then, in 2010, the greatest outbreak in 60 years took the lives of ten infants, reported CNN. The preventable ailment had made a vicious comeback, all due to unvaccinated children and adults.
A Los Angeles Times op-ed this week raised the issue that parents are still opting out of vaccinating their kids—and it’s not about the cost. In fact, the trend away from immunization shows up predominately in private schools. An average of only two percent of California public middle school students are not up to date on vaccinations by choice, according to the California Department of Public Health.
By contrast, Crossroads School, a prestigious private school on the west side of Los Angeles, reported in the 2012-13 school year that 12 percent of its middle school parents refused vaccinations due to “personal beliefs.” Crossroads’ nearby sister school, New Roads, reports that more than one in four of its middle school students—27 percent—are also not properly vaccinated due to “personal beliefs.” Another private school in Malibu reports a 50 percent vaccination rate.
Crossroads tuition is nearly $32,000 per year, so it’s clear financial hardship has nothing to do with it. More often, it’s a belief that vaccines are linked to autism (which has yet to be proven) or, as Tim Dennison, Crossroads School’s nurse, says, an extremist approach to “clean living.” “Some families say that since they eat organic and don’t take pills, they don’t believe in the immunizations,” Dennison says.
Meanwhile, Dennison always recommends that students be vaccinated, along with Dr. Ronald Nagel’s office, a pediatric practice that treats many of these L.A. private school children.