Officials remind public of vaccination importance as students return to school

Officials remind public of...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - When it comes to immunizations, it's been a busy summer for staff at the Santa Maria Bonita School District.

"All throughout the summer we've been following up with families whose children don't have the required vaccinations, the Kindergarten year and the Seventh grade year are big years for new vaccinations," explains Maggie White, Public Information Officer for the Santa Maria Bonita School District. 

Now due to a change in state policy, some parents and guardians who were planning on holding off on vaccines due to personal beliefs had to get their children shots. 

Those who already had exemptions filed were grandfathered in.

"So we do still have a number of children with personal belief exemptions but that number significantly went down in our community; as the vaccination rate goes up, that means we achieve herd immunity," says Health Officer for the Santa Barbara County Health Department, Dr. Charity Dean. 

All students arriving to school Monday not only had to be up to date on their vaccinations but also had to have immunization cards from their doctor's office. 

We spoke to grandfather William Knowlton picking up his grandchildren at Liberty Elementary. 

He says he appreciates the school being so rigorous on checking the student's vaccine history, telling us: "The kids should be vaccinated I believe. We grew up with you know, small pox and all that going around so it's a good idea to protect your kids."

Last year, the county saw a record number of kindergartners being vaccinated - at a rate of 96.4 percent. 

The Public Health Department believes these vaccines are important because they protect more than just students.

"The concept of vaccination is really focusing on the good of the whole of the community and protecting the people that we love around us and it doesn't just apply to children, it protects our whole community," says Dr. Dean. 

If you'd like to see what the requirements are for your child's school, click here

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