(Photo by kfuhlert via Pixabay)
Tempers flare among some Bay Area residents when they talk about vaccinating their children. 

In the North Bay, where tempers seem to burn the hottest, few measles cases were reported between 2001 and 2017, though this could be due to a lack of reporting by parents to public health officials. 

Among the four Bay Area counties in the North Bay, nine cases of measles were reported between 2001 and 2017, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. 

Four other counties alone each reported more cases.  

Here’s how the counties rank by the number of reported cases of measles from 2001 to 2017.1. San Francisco — 272. Alameda County — 203. Santa Clara County — 194. San Mateo County — 125. Contra Costa County — 86. Marin County — 47. Napa County — 38. Solano County — 19. Sonoma County — 1Even before Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law in September to crack down on questionable vaccination exemptions, legislation signed in 2015 was helpful at limiting outbreaks, said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer. But the 2015 legislation did not require doctors to list the child’s medical condition or circumstances behind their decision to grant an exemption, which the latest does. 

“Measles was declared eliminated as a disease in the U.S. in 2000 — it was on its way out, like smallpox, because of vaccination,” Willis said. “So our rates were very low, but measles bounced back as vaccination rates declined.”

State health officials said that school immunization levels were up statewide in the 2018-2019 school year compared with the 2015-2016 school year. 

SourceCalifornia Department of Public Health, Vaccine Preventable Disease Cases by County and Year; Marin County Department of Health and Human Services

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.