Blog: The Educated Reporter

News Site Demonstrates Community Journalism With Database on School Vaccination Rates

I was completely shocked by a piece on the AtlanticWire about the unbelievably low vaccination rate at a Bay Area private school. (I found the story through’s XX Factor.) More than three-quarters of the kindergarteners at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula are not vaccinated.

Megan McArdle of the AtlanticWire points out that even if the unvaccinated children themselves never become ill, they are potential carriers of potentially deadly infectious diseases, including measles and polio. That means they could transmit the disease to someone with a compromised immune system.

One of the more amazing aspects of this story is the source of the vaccination statistics — it’s the Bay Citizen, a news start-up in its second year of operation. As the news site explains, the Bay Citizen is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan, member-supported news organization dedicated to promoting innovation in journalism and catalyzing citizen engagement with the news.”

The interactive database on school immunization rates is a superb example of community journalism. (Click here for the link.)

I have been wondering what the reaction was to the database among local schools, both public and private, and I plan to follow up with the Bay Citizen staff. I am also curious about what prompted the decision to create the database, how difficult it was to set up and how many “hits” it has received. I am also going to reach out the Waldorf School of the Peninsula for a response.