CHICAGO LAWN — With only 81.5 percent of its students immunized against measles, McKay Elementary in Chicago Lawn has the lowest rate of vaccinations in the city.
"I don't think it's smart to vaccinate kids," said Murdock, the parent of a boy in kindergarten, Keishawn. She feared the shots could actually make her children sick. "I wasn't vaccinated as child, and I'm fine."
Other schools with the low vaccination rates, according to data from the Illinois State Board of Education in October:
• Park Manor Elementary School, Grand Crossing: 84 percent
• Legacy Elementary Charter School, Little Village: 85 percent
• Spencer Technology Academy, Austin: 85 percent
• Dubois Elementary School, Altgeld Gardens: 85 percent
See the measles vaccination rates at your CPS school:
The state and Chicago Public Schools require 90 percent of all students at a school to be compliant with immunization rules. CPS said the schools that were under that rate in the fall are now in compliance. Since October, four of the five schools with the lowest rates now have 94 percent of students compliant with regard to the measles vaccine, CPS spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said Wednesday. Legacy Elementary is above 90 percent but below 94 percent, Huffman said.
However, that doesn't mean that 90 percent of students actually got the vaccine at those schools: The law allows students to be exempt from getting the shots for religious or medical reasons, or they could have a different schedule for immunizations approved by a health official. And students still are allowed to go to school without shots.
Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent to 95 percent of people should have immunizations to effectively make everyone in a group immunized against a specific disease.
CPS officials said this week that they want every student vaccinated against measles. The district sent a letter to parents explaining how to recognize if their child had measles and telling them how to get the vaccine.
"While there are no confirmed cases of measles in the district, our chief health officer, Dr. Stephanie Whyte, strongly encourages parents to ensure that their child gets the measles vaccine," Huffman said in a news release.
Overall, 97.5 percent of the nearly 394,000 CPS students were up to date with their measles vaccines in October, state data shows.
Religious objections are rarely registered as a reason not to get vaccinated in the city of Chicago, according to state data. The largest percentage of students not vaccinated due to religious reasons attend West Loop-based Chicago Virtual Charter School, which has an overall vaccination rate of 91 percent. Data shows that 37 students — 5.5 percent of its 667-student body — aren’t vaccinated due to religious reasons. But students largely take classes online from home at the school, meeting once a week for classes at its campus.
The principal at McCay did not respond to requests for comment, but other parents at McCay were split on whether vaccinations should be required.
"The suburbs are so far away, there's a minimal chance that the outbreak will reach" the school, said McKay parent Kequanna Evans, who nevertheless vaccinated her children.
While she said students should be vaccinated in general, she added "It shouldn't be mandatory."
But Geraldine Dees, 51, who was picking up her nephew at the school this week, thought all kids should be required to be vaccinated.
"It's necessary," Dees said. "You don't want kids getting sick from other children's germs."
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