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San Diego Health Report Card Shows No Improvement In Child Immunization Rate

Evening Edition

Aired 4/17/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST:

Sandy McBrayer, Chief Executive Officer, The Children's Initiative

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San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families

San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families

Every two years The Children's Initiative offers a ...

A new report card is out on the health of children and families in San Diego. The report is issued every two years by the non-profit organization The Children's Initiative.

It confirms what many similar surveys have found about the increase of kids and families living in poverty in San Diego. But it also indicates that we are maintaining, not in a good way, our rates of childhood obesity, and there's an increase in the number of young children who are victims of violent crime.

Among the improvements, the report shows a decrease in the number of adolescents arrested for crimes.

The Children's Initiative CEO Sandy McBrayer said this is due in part to the recognition that a lot of juvenile crimes can be handled at the community level.

"Once you enter the [juvenile] hall, your chances of returning are four times greater," McBrayer said.

She said a focus on increasing juvenile diversion means adolescents who commit low-level crimes, including shoplifting and breaking curfew, are being referred to community-based organizations that provide services to prevent youths from re-offending and to get them back to school.

The report also found that the child immunization rate is the same as it was more than a decade ago, with only 81 percent of young children receiving basic immunizations.

San Diego's rate of parents citing personal belief exemptions for vaccination is higher than the state average, McBrayer said.

When children who are not immunized contract an illness such as measles or whooping cough, they are often fine, she said. But what those children's parents may not see is the elderly person or pregnant woman who became seriously ill or died as a result of the illness, McBrayer said.

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