Californians are waking up to the fact that refusing to vaccinate their children endangers them.
In 2014, for the first time in 12 years, less Californians claimed their beliefs disallowed immunizing their children, according to a Los Angeles Times data analysis. Health officials have stated that once the rate of non-immunization among the populace reaches 8%, an outbreak becomes more likely.
California’s state law changed last year; to reject vaccinating their children, parents now need approval from a healthcare provider stating that the parents were counseled regarding non-vaccination risks or they must assert their religious beliefs prohibit them from hearing medical advice from healthcare practitioners. The law previously required parents to simply sign a waiver at the school office.
In addition to the new state law, some school districts have written parents to indicate where their children can be vaccinated for free.
These actions seem to have induced a change; 2.5% of kindergartners entered without vaccinations in 2014, compared to 3.1% in 2013. In some local districts, the non-vaccination rate fell significantly:
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District: 14.8% to 11.5%
Beverly Hills Unified: 11.9% to 5%
Laguna Beach Unified: 15.1% to 2%
The new data comes following a nationwide measles outbreak largely derived from a visitor to Disneyland one week before Christmas. Health officials, disheartened by the outbreak, pointed out that domestic transmission of measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. Of the cases reported, 62 of the 71 came in California. One-quarter of the California victims needed to be hospitalized. Nationwide, 43 of the cases had immunization records, while 37 of them were not immunized. Only five were fully immunized.
The CDC stated in 2012, “For some diseases, one case is enough to cause concern in a community. An example is measles, which is one of the most contagious diseases known. This disease spreads quickly among people who are not immune.”
The journal Pediatrics noted, “In 2010, 9120 cases of pertussis were reported in California, more than any year since 1947.” The journal concluded that the outbreak was largely catalyzed by schools with a high percentage of non-vaccinated students.