California, here they come…

Measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and a host of other goodies. All courtesy of doctors like Dr. Jay and Dr. Andy (with partial credit to Dr. Bob), and laypeeps like Ms. Jenny:

California schools’ risks rise as vaccinations drop

A rising number of California parents are choosing to send their children to kindergarten without routine vaccinations, putting hundreds of elementary schools in the state at risk for outbreaks of childhood diseases eradicated in the U.S. years ago.

Exemptions from vaccines — which allow children to enroll in public and private schools without state-mandated shots — have more than doubled since 1997, according to a Times analysis of state data obtained last week.

The rise in unvaccinated children appears to be driven by affluent parents choosing not to immunize. Many do so because they fear the shots could trigger autism, a concern widely discredited in medical research…

…For generations, most children went unimmunized only if their parents couldn’t afford the shots, a problem now remedied through federal funds. A tiny percentage of children cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

But as parents’ fears about vaccine safety have grown, the demographics of the unvaccinated have shifted substantially. Although fewer than 2% of kindergartners at traditional public schools and Catholic schools in California had exemptions last fall, more than 4% of kindergartners at other private schools and nearly 10% of those enrolling in charter schools were exempted.

Go thee and read the whole article. I promise, it’s worth it.

California’s beautiful and I’m sure it’s an otherwise wonderful place to live, but between the earthquakes and the anti-vaxers, I think I’ll stay put in this war zone of mine 😉 .

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7 Responses

  1. Well if there’s an outbreak and the vaccines do their job for the vaccinated kids. We shouldn’t have much to worry about, right? – I still don’t want to live in California though.

    • The problem is that vaccines are rarely 100% effective. In a highly vaccinated population, the few children whose vaxes haven’t ‘taken’ are protected by herd immunity; if herd immunity is eroded, however, it’s possible even some vaxed kids will suffer. Not to mention the babies who are too young to be immunized…

  2. I don’t understand why they allow exemptions – or at least allow them to be had so easily. If it’s truly against your religion or if your child is one of the few who have a medical reason for not being able to be vaccinated – OK. But you shouldn’t be able to opt out just because.

  3. It varies by state. It’s more difficult where I am in New York since for a religious exemption you have to prove that you are a member of a faith registered with the state as one the requires that you forgo vaccination. As far as I an work out from the coded things I’ve read from people to advocate this sort of thing, in California you just have to really *really* mean it. Still even here there are people who find ways round it.

    A bigger problem for us is all the kids who are getting the MMR as separate injections, the people who follow the Sears vaccination schedule or those who just make up vaccination schedules based on who-knows-what. Most kids have to get caught up by school age – though it takes awhile for those who don’t to get busted.

    It’s a mess but not so much a mess as California.

  4. This drives me nuts. I used to cover education for a newspaper in So Cal. As it turned out, I became pregnant during that time. My OB also discovered that my immunity to rubella had worn off (my mom, who dutifully had me vaccinated as a child, was very upset to learn this, but I reassured her that it wasn’t that uncommon). As I learned more and more about people who avoided vaccinating their kids, I became worried that somehow I might be exposed to rubella via one of those families. After all, I was in and out of schools every day–and not just schools full of migrant worker’s kids who might not have current vaccinations but also upper middle class schools where some well-meaning-but-very-mistaken mommies and daddies were choosing to forego vaccination. I knew the risk was still pretty low of my actually being exposed. But what about a few years from now, when some other pregnant woman finds out she’s not immune anymore either?

  5. I’m in Los Angeles, and I looked up my school in the handy tool provided by that article and found out that it’s at a high risk for an outbreak. Great!

    At our daycare, we had to provided proof of immunization. But it alarmed me to see that the exemption slip, which allowed us to check that we had religious or medical exemptions, included an exemption that was just “personal.” I asked the woman running the office at the daycare about it, and she confirmed that yes, parents could skip out of the vaccinations for personal reasons. I was pretty unhappy about that. At the time we enrolled our son, apparently all the kids were vaccinated at the center. But there have been new kids since then.

  6. I think if your religion requires you to put your children and all of society in danger, it’s not a religion, it’s a cult.

    Adults who do not work with children or the mentally ill should be allowed religious or philosophical objections for work or school. Kids? No. Not at all. Medical exemptions only, at least for measles, rubella, meningitis, hep B, pertussis, and polio if you live in an area where it hasn’t been eradicated yet, and once the vaccine has been around longer without a recall, add HPV to the list.

    They are endangering their children and everyone around them. Why do they have the right to hurt the rest of us under freedom of religion?

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