New Measles Outbreak Focuses Attention On Parent Choice

Feb 5, 2015


A preschooler displays his band-aid after getting a vaccination.
Credit Dusty Rhodes

Five babies at a day care center in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, have the measles. These infants were vulnerable because they are all under the age of 1, and therefore too young to get the measles vaccine. It’s the latest in a rash of cases that have shown up in about a dozen states -- focusing new attention on families who choose not to vaccinate their children.

Illinois law allows unvaccinated children to attend school if their parents document specific religious objections to immunizations. In the Springfield area, this option is rarely used. Ball Elementary in Chatham has eight students whose parents used the religion exemption -- and that’s the highest number among area public schools, followed by six at Owen Marsh Elementary in Springfield.

Overall, the rate of unvaccinated students in local public schools is less than one percent.

Statistics from the Illinois State Board of Education show the highest numbers of unvaccinated students appear to be in private schools using the Waldorf curriculum, which emphasizes nature and art. There are 69 unvaccinated students at the Chicago Waldorf School, in the Rogers Park neighborhood, and 29 at the Da Vinci Waldorf School in the northwest suburb of Wauconda.

To see the Illinois State Board of Education's vaccination statistics for Illinois schools, click HERE.

To see Springfield District 186's policy on immunizations, click HERE.