Report spurs Atlanta vaccination reform

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

ACHJ member and Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Alison Young followed up her initial report on unvaccinated students in Atlanta schools with a story about the school districts’ resulting crackdown. Young also questioned some schools’ claims of 100 percent compliance, based on changes in the way schools counted students without required booster shots.

According to Young, the worst-offending school districts had taken significant measures to become compliant with local vaccination requirements. One district even kicked 105 students out of class on Jan. 30 for noncompliance.

A few area schools have not yet vaccinated all students, Young found. She said that a work group recently began meeting to assign roles and responsibilities for enforcing the law.

Young even discovered an internal Atlanta school district email urging vaccination compliance because of the possibility of follow-up stories in the media.

“The ‘perception in the state is that Fulton County and Atlanta have the worst immunization rates and are nonresponsive to blatant notification of violations or media scrutiny and the media is ready to write a follow-up story documenting this fact,’” a district official wrote.

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