Vaccine opt-outs rising in private schools

Parents of children in private schools are more likely to opt out of immunizations in California than public school parents, according to a recent report.

According to data released by the state, the percentage of private school children who opt out of some or all of their vaccinations is more than two times greater than the opt out rate in public schools. The rate of private school children without all of their immunizations increased 10 percent in 2011, Associated Press reports.

The opt out rates stayed consistent with the previous year in public schools for the first time since 2004.

Public health officials said that if parents continue to increase the rate of vaccine opt outs, there will be an increased risk of whooping cough outbreak and other outbreaks.

"We're very concerned that those schools are places where disease can spread quite rapidly through the school and into the community, should it get introduced," Robert Schechter, a medical officer with the Immunization branch of the California Department of Public Health, said, according to Associated Press.

Officials said that an immunization rate of at least 90 percent in all communities is needed to minimize the potential risk for a disease outbreak. Approximately 15 percent of the 1,650 private schools surveyed failed to meet the mark along with five percent of public schools, Associated Press reports.