What pro­posed Cal­i­for­nia vac­ci­na­tion law would do

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Rong- Gong Lin I I ron. lin@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ron­lin

The Cal­i­for­nia Assem­bly has passed a bill that would cre­ate one of the tough­est manda­tory vac­ci­na­tion laws in the na­tion and re­quire more chil­dren to be vac­ci­nated as a con­di­tion of school en­roll­ment.

The state Se­nate passed a ver­sion of the bill in May on a 25- to- 11 vote, and now needs to con­sider mi­nor amend­ments ap­proved by the Assem­bly. If the Se­nate ap­proves the Assem­bly’s ver­sion of the bill, the mea­sure then heads to the gover­nor’s desk for a sig­na­ture. What would the leg­is­la­tion do if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it?

It would end par­ents’ abil­ity to de­cline vac­ci­na­tions for chil­dren when they are en­rolled in public and pri­vate schools and day­care cen­ters. Par­ents would no longer be able to cite per­sonal be­liefs in re­ject­ing vac­ci­na­tions. What about chil­dren who have a med­i­cal rea­son to avoid vac­ci­na­tions, such as an al­lergy or leukemia?

Such chil­dren still would be ex­empt. The pro­posed law would state that a doc­tor’s note would need to spec­ify why the child could not be vac­ci­nated. What would hap­pen to chil­dren whose par­ents de­clined vac­ci­na­tions?

They would have to be en­rolled in a home- based pri­vate school, or in an in­de­pen­dent study pro­gram not based in a class­room. What about chil­dren who have vac­cine ex­emp­tions on file?

They would be able to con­tinue with day care un­til they en­roll in kinder­garten, or in ele­men­tary school un­til they en­roll in the 7th grade. Then par­ents would have to de­cide whether to vac­ci­nate or take their chil­dren out of school. How many chil­dren have a form on file de­clin­ing one or more vac­cines due to a par­ent’s be­liefs?

In the fall of 2014, there were 13,592 kinder­gart­ners — or 2.54% of the state’s to­tal kinder­gart­ners — with per­sonal- belief ex­emp­tions on file. In the fall of 1998, there were 4,032 kinder­gart­ners, or 0.77%, with per­sonal- belief ex­emp­tions on file. What is ex­ist­ing law?

State law re­quires school­child­ren and day- care en­rollees to be vac­ci­nated for a num­ber of dis­eases. But par­ents have been able to re­ject the vac­ci­na­tions if they said vac­cines con­tra­dicted their per­sonal be­liefs. Par­ents need to file a form that in­di­cates they were coun­seled by a healthcare prac­ti­tioner on the risks of chil­dren not get­ting im­mu­nized. Why was the pro­posal in­tro­duced?

A measles out­break that be­gan in Dis­ney­land dur­ing the win­ter hol­i­days spi­raled into the worst that Cal­i­for­nia had seen since the 1988- 91 na­tional measles out­break. From De­cem­ber through April, there were 136 measles cases among Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents; about 1 in 5 of those af­fected were hos­pi­tal­ized.

Measles im­mu­niza­tion rates for kinder­gart­ners in Cal­i­for­nia have been drop­ping since 2002, when the rate was 95.7%. By 2013, it had dropped to 92.2%. Ex­perts say measles im­mu­niza­tion rates need to stay above 95% to keep the com­mu­nity safe from out­breaks. What ar­eas of Cal­i­for­nia have lower measles vac­ci­na­tion rates than oth­ers?

A Los An­ge­les Times anal­y­sis in Fe­bru­ary found that preschools in aff lu­ent ar­eas such as the West­side, the South Bay and south­ern Or­ange County tended to have lower measles vac­ci­na­tion rates than oth­ers.

Other preschools that re­ported lower measles vac­ci­na­tion rates as of last Oc­to­ber in­cluded Bev­erly Hills, Hol­ly­wood, Sil­ver Lake, the western and south­ern San Fer­nando Val­ley and Pasadena.

Else­where in the state, Marin County, Berke­ley, the U. S. 101 cor­ri­dor in Sil­i­con Val­ley, coastal neigh­bor­hoods in San Diego County, the Eureka area and Sacra­mento’s north­east­ern sub­urbs also had clus­ters of child- care cen­ters with low measles vac­ci­na­tion rates.

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