Nearly two dozen schools in Whatcom County are below the state average for the percentage of kindergarteners who have the required vaccinations needed to start school this year.
The report released Monday by the Department of Health shows about 85 percent of kindergarteners statewide have the required vaccinations. Another 4.7 percent have an exemption excusing them from one or more vaccinations because of medical, personal, or religions reasons.
That exemption rate increased slightly during the 2016-17 school year, compared to the previous year. It’s more than double the national average of 2 percent.
The report comes amid a mumps outbreak in Washington state, and a case of whooping cough (pertussis) at Ferndale High School.
In Whatcom County, only one school district – Lummi Nation – was above the state average, with 90.5 percent of students having the required vaccinations, according to data from the state. Ferndale School District reported the highest number of exemptions, with 10.9 percent.
Among all public and private schools here, Providence Christian Northwest, a private school in Bellingham with 8 kindergarten students, reported only 12.5 percent have the required vaccinations.
Lynden Christian Schools, with 59 students, had the highest rate at 96.6 percent.
Health officials say students with complete immunizations are better protected from getting and spreading diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.
Statewide, about 8 percent of kindergartners are out of compliance with requirements. Those students aren’t fully immunized, haven’t submitted an exemption, or are missing paperwork. A remaining 2 percent are getting caught up on paperwork.
Nearly 2,500 public and private schools, or 95 percent, submitted data to the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Percentage of kindergarteners in Whatcom County public schools with the required vaccinations needed to start school (2016-17 school year):
Out of compliance
Source: Washington State Department of Health
To see immunization rates for all grade levels in Whatcom County, click here.