Monday, September 26, 2011

California Parents Forgoing Vaccinations for Their School Aged Children - Highest Rate since 1978

In fact, tens of thousands are entering California schools and avoiding California's immunization requirements.
Last year's class of California kindergartners had a record high percentage of parents who used a personal belief exemption to avoid immunization requirements, a development that concerns state health officials.

More than 11,000 kindergartners missed at least one vaccine in 2010 because their parents decided to forgo inoculation. At nearly 2.5 percent of the state's 470,000 kindergartners, that's California's highest rate of declined vaccines since at least 1978, the year before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was required.

The percentage is more than double that in certain parts of the state, particularly in more affluent coastal communities in Northern California.

The public debate over childhood vaccinations has been growing throughout California, where last year a deadly spike in whooping cough cases killed 10 babies and sickened more than 9,100 people. The outbreak prompted a state law that requires middle and high school students to get whooping cough booster shots before going back to school this year.

The percentage of parents who sign vaccine exemptions based on personal beliefs has been rising steadily since 2004. The increase coincides with rising use of the Internet for information, said John Talarico, chief of the immunization branch for the California Department of Public Health.

"We really think a lot of it is due to honest, valid concern that parents do the best thing for their child coupled with misinformation that gets out through various forms of communication," he said.

He said state health officials want to study the personal-belief exemptions to better understand trends and behaviors. For now, he is hoping the trend will begin to slow, especially with media coverage of last year's whooping cough deaths.

Just last week, state health officials said the number of reported measles cases in California had reached a 10-year high of 28. Of those, 22 people were either unvaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown

Please parents, get the information you need and make an informed decision. But, do NOT deny your child the necessary protection because of some internet rumor or some movie/television celebrity recommendation.

If you have doubts, call or write your local public health department or talk to your physician.

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