San Diego, California - Measles. Mumps. Polio. Chickenpox. Whooping Cough.

These are five of 14 childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. But, a growing number of San Diego parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, leaving them prone to illness.

The percentage of kindergarteners with a personal beliefs exemption for childhood vaccinations reached 4.5 percent this school year in San Diego. What this means is that more than 1,900 of the 43,000 plus kindergarteners enrolled in local schools were missing one or more of the recommended vaccines. 

April 26 through May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week and the County Health and Human Services Agency is encouraging parents to make sure their children get vaccinations on the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“A higher number of unvaccinated infants means more children are susceptible to disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Vaccines are safe and effective and the best way parents can protect their children against disease.”

Vaccinations help protect local children and the general public from disease. Countywide immunization efforts are part of the County’s Live Well San Diego initiative, which aims to improve the health and well-being of local residents. Parents should ask their doctor or clinic to check their child’s immunization record and make sure their baby is up-to-date.

The CDC recommends infants get immunizations at birth, 2, 4, 6, 12-15, and 18 months of age to protect them against many diseases, including measles, mumps and whooping cough. An annual flu shot is also recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

Babies are not the only ones who should be vaccinated. Parents, older siblings, grandparents, health care professionals, and babysitters also need to be up to date. High immunization coverage levels mean fewer people get sick.

“Immunizations can prevent disease, disability, and, in the worst of cases, death,” Wooten said.

National Infant Immunization Week was created in 1994 to remind parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers to ensure infants are fully immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.

For more information on immunizations and the diseases they prevent, parents should contact their health care provider, visit www.sdiz.org or call the County Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966.