It took Karen Zampa three tries, but she finally gave her kids chickenpox.
Zampa took her 5 and 7-year-old sons to three “chickenpox parties,” gatherings where an infected child shares lollipops and clothes with healthy kids in an effort to spread the illness.
“For them, the best option was actually getting the chickenpox instead of getting the chickenpox vaccine,” she said.
Zampa chose not to give her sons a chickenpox or Hepatitis B vaccine, and had them immunized on a slower schedule, so she had to submit a personal beliefs exemption form to their school, California Montessori Project, Capitol Campus, just west of Rosemont in College-Glen.
With vaccines in the news locally and in the Bay Area, Patch looked at the rate of kids in the Sacramento City Unified School District who started kindergarten last year without the full battery of vaccinations because their parents or guardians signed affidavits stating, “all or some vaccinations are contrary to my personal beliefs.”
This year, a state law requires students entering seventh through twelfth grades show they’ve received a vaccination for whooping cough. A study showing that whooping cough vaccines fade faster than public health officials thought supports the thinking behind the legislation.
"It's too much too early for their little bodies"
According to last year’s state data for kindergartners, more parents at the small California Montessori Project, Capitol Campus, and Alice Birney Waldorf-Inspired School in South Land Park opt out of vaccines than anywhere else in the Sacramento City Unified School District. The personal belief exemption rates of kindergartners at those schools last year were 21 and 32 percent, compared to 1.5 percent in the district and about 2 percent in all of California, according to the California Department of Public Health.
No school in Rosemont, including Capital Christian School, had more than 4 percent of kindergartners last year with the exemption forms.
For Catrina Arcularius, another parent at California Montessori Project, Capitol Campus, vaccinating on her own schedule is about not living in fear of illnesses.
“My mom delayed our [vaccination] schedule,” Arcularius said. “I had mumps … and a couple of the different things and we got over it.”
Arcularius said she doesn’t disagree with vaccines, but didn’t feel comfortable blasting her 6 and 3-year-old sons with dozens of shots before they were even 2 years old.
“It's too much too early for their little bodies,” she said, noting that her sons will be fully caught up on vaccinations by age 12.
She wasn’t surprised that her chosen school, a district charter school, had a large number of exemptions.
“[The school is] a little more alternate thinking,” she said. “There’s a different philosophy [here].”
Gary Bowman, the school’s executive director, said in an email he was “hesitant to generalize a pattern based on the rate of exemptions,” but that in general, many charter school parents “are prone to question the ‘status quo.’ ”
District officials couldn’t be reached for comment by deadline, and Capitol Campus Principal Bernie Evangelista didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment. Alice Birney Principal Mechelle Horning declined to comment.
California Department of Public Health data on personal belief exemptions from vaccines:School 2010 enrollment Number of personal belief exemptions Percent exempted Golden Empire 100 2 2 Isador Cohen
50 1 2 James W. Marshall
73 3 4 Sequoia 75 0 0 Capital Christian School
69 2 3 Alice Birney Waldorf-Inspired School 74 24 32 California Montessori Project, Capitol Campus
39 8 21