Kindergarten vaccination rates vary by a wide margin in Metro Vancouver communities, according to a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

The study focused on Vancouver Coastal Health numbers for the 2013/14 school year and found a 30 per cent discrepancy between the Lower Mainland’s most and least vaccinated communities.

The vaccination rate for kindergartners in Richmond is more than 90 per cent.

In North Vancouver, the immunization rate was nearly 20 percentage points lower and in West Vancouver and Bowen Island 30 per cent fewer kids in kindergarten had been vaccinated.

“Our study found some of the lowest vaccination rates were in more affluent locations, like North and West Vancouver,“ said lead author Richard Carpiano, professor of sociology.

“In the United States, child immunization rates don’t follow the typical variations that you see for other types of health disparities, and our findings seem to be consistent with what’s been observed south of the border.”

Researchers say more than 90 per cent of children in a community need to be vaccinated in order to achieve what is known as “herd immunity” and they have concerns about the high concentrations of unvaccinated children.

“If you have a school where only 10 per cent of the kids are immunized, there’s no herd immunity in that school,” said co-author Julie Bettinger, associate professor in the department of pediatrics and an investigator at BC Children’s Hospital.

Vancouver Coastal Health recommends that children should receive two vaccines at age four -- before they begin kindergarten -- to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox.

Some jurisdictions, including New Brunswick, Ontario and California, have mandatory immunization rules for school admittance, something not in place in B.C.

There are exemptions available in those provinces that let parents opt-out for medical, religious or philosophical reasons, however, provided they obtain the appropriate documents, such as a doctor's note or signed affidavit.  

CTV News has reached out to B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake about the possibility of a similar move here and this story will be updated if we receive a response.