Starting next school year, kids will need additional immunizations.

It affects all students entering preschool, Kindergarten through 12th grade — even colleges and universities.

The State Department of Health says these vaccinations will help prevent the community from getting sick.

We spoke with one mother who says she got a “huge wake-up call” about vaccinating her children.

Oahu mother Natasha Gourlay and her husband never thought of themselves as so-called anti-vaxers. They simply decided to have their children get their shots when they got older — on a different schedule.

“With that schedule in mind that we had, unfortunately, our daughter did contract tetanus.”

They lived in Kona then and were medevaced to Oahu — where their two-year-old daughter was hospitalized for two-and-a-half weeks.

“And still to this day is recovering every day. With tetanus it takes about six months.”

Gourlay says each parent has to do what they feel is best for their child — but —

“Through this experience, I would definitely recommend for new parents to vaccinate their kids and you know just educate themselves before they make certain choices.”

Meanwhile, measles cases are on the rise in the U.S. this year — and while a majority of the population is vaccinated, a segment of the population is not.

Some believe vaccines can cause autism or other health problems.

Some are suspicious of pharmaceutical companies.

Some object on religious grounds — and there are other reasons.

In Hawaii, it is possible to seek religious or medical exemptions from vaccination requirements.

Four neighbor island schools — with very small enrollments — have high percentages of un-vaccinated kids.

School Religious Exemption % Enrollment
Haleakala Waldorf, Maui 52.65 245
Malamalama Waldorf, Hawaii 46.32 95
Roots School, Maui 41.51 53
Alakai O Kauai, Kauai 40.00 130

New vaccines are going to be required for admission from Kindergarten through college, as well.


Dr. Bruce Anderson, director of the State Health Department, says, “What’s new in these vaccination schedules is requirements for 7th graders — people going into 7th grade. One of those requirements is a vaccine to prevent HPV — human papillomavirus, which is a risk mostly to women. It can cause cervical cancer and other serious health conditions.”

Anderson says vaccines can protect the person who gets the shot — and also protect the greater community.

The state offers an interactive map showing the rate of exemptions at schools around the islands. Zoom in to see the data points:

To see the State Health Department’s 2020-2021 School Health requirements page:

To find out about vaccination exemptions:

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