Student Well-Being

More California Students Vaccinated After Change in Law, Data Show

By Evie Blad — April 13, 2017 1 min read
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California schools saw an increase in fully vaccinated incoming students after the state passed a law restricting so-called philosophical opt-outs from immunization mandates, new data show.

According to the California Department of Public Health:

Compared to the 2015-2016 school year, the proportion of students attending kindergarten in 2016-2017 reported to have received all required vaccines rose from 92.8% to 95.6%, a 2.8 percentage point increase over one year and a 5.2 percentage point increase over the two years since 2014-2015. The 2016-2017 rate of 95.6% is the highest reported for the current set of immunization requirements for kindergarten, which began in the 2001-2002 school year."

The agency also reported increases in rates of students who’d received individual vaccines.

The changes in vaccination rates follow changes in state laws. The California legislature passed bills in recent years that put new requirements on personal belief exemptions, which give parents the ability to opt their children out of school-based vaccination mandates for unspecified personal reasons. Last year the state fully eliminated personal belief exemptions. Students can still claim medical exemptions from the state requirements.

Just two other states, West Virginia and Mississippi, have such restrictive vaccine policies.

As I’ve written previously, public health experts have criticized broad philosophical exemptions, saying families often use them to opt out of vaccines for unscientific reasons or for reasons of convenience.

Opponents of the measure said it restricts families’ rights to make decisions about their own health.

Graphic: California Department of Public Health

Related reading on vaccines:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.