About 97% of Will County school-age children immunized, health department says

Between 97% and 98% of Will County’s school-age children from preschool through the 12th grade are protected by immunizations, according to a county health official’s report.

Will County Health Department Executive Director Susan Olenek included the information in her regular report to the Will County Board’s Public Health & Safety Committee last week after a request for the data.

She said once an area gets below 95%, it typically loses herd immunity, which indirectly protects individuals who are not immunized because of a large percentage of the population already being vaccinated.

The Illinois State Board of Education tracks data on immunization rates at school districts across the state. Olenek said the records keep track of immunizations for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease and chickenpox.

Some members of the County Board had questions about the issue after reading reports of a rising number of parents choosing to not vaccinate their school-age children throughout the country. County Board member Jim Moustis asked Olenek about local rates at a committee meeting last month.

In order to not have to submit proof of immunization, students must generally provide a medical waiver or have a religious exemption.

Late last year, Lewis University in Romeoville experienced a measles outbreak. There also was a possible case documented at Lockport Township High School about the same time.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.