Utah kindergarten children are not complying with the immunization laws, a trend concerning state health officials.

State epidemiologist Craig R. Nichols said the results of the latest Health Department survey of kindergarten students "reveal a disturbing, continuing decline in immunization levels.`The percentage of kindergarteners adequately immunized in 1987-88 with each vaccine ranges from 92.8 percent for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis to 96 percent for measles, mumps, and rubella," he said. That's down about 2 percent from the 1984-85 academic year.

Nichols said the rates compare unfavorably with national averages, with about 97 percent of kindergarten students in the United States receiving required vaccines.

The immunization levels for licensed day care center/preschools aren't much better. They also declined in 1987-88 for the second straight year, following three years of steady improvement. Required vaccines dropped from 85.8 percent in 1985-86 to 79.8 percent for this school year, the report said.

"This downward trend must be reduced," Nichols stressed.

One somewhat encouraging note, he said, is a steady trend in the number of students enrolled in Head Start programs who had received vaccinations. About 84.1 percent were adequately immunized, up nearly 7 percent during the past four years.

And there was a slight increase - from 82.2 percent to 85.4 percent - of transfer students in kindergarten through the 12th grade who were adequately immunized.

Utah law requires that all children enrolled in a school, licensed child care center or Head Start program submit proof of immunization or present evidence of exemption for medical, religious or personal reasons.

Nichols said students given a conditional enrollment status - those in the process of receiving vaccinations - and unimmunized students are to be tracked by school or health officials throughout the year and excluded from school if compliance is not met.

"Parents are encouraged not to postpone immunizations for their children," he said. "Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have occurred in Utah during recent years."

Nichols said vaccines are available from local health departments and private physicians throughout Utah.