California’s Stringent Vaccination Laws May Be Ineffective in Increasing Overall Student Vaccination Rates

In 2016, California strengthened its vaccination laws with the goal of increasing rates of vaccination amongst children in the state. The new law prohibits parents from seeking personal and/or religious belief exemptions. Now, only medical exemptions are permitted. On its face, it appears that the law is achieving its intended goal. During the first year that the law was in effect, “the state’s kindergarten vaccination rate shot up from 92.8% to 95.6%.” However, the number of unvaccinated homeschooled children quadrupled the first two years of the law’s enactment. Additionally, the number of children receiving medical exemptions increased to 70%. Since California’s law did not repeal medical exemptions and only extends to children enrolled in California schools, many loopholes exist allowing parents to keep children unvaccinated. Fortunately, there are efforts to close these loopholes. One such law will permit the government to review exemptions issued by doctors who have issued five or more medical waivers to vaccination so as to deter fraudulent exemptions.

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Blog post authored by Elizabeth DeVivo