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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

School Vaccine Exemptions

By September 27, 2011

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Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, declared a few weeks ago that one of their reports was "reassuring because it means that most parents are protecting their young children from diseases that can cause widespread and sometimes severe harm."

Not all parents apparently. An AP report has found that more than 11,000 kindergartners in California missed at least one vaccine last year because their parents had used a personal belief exemption to avoid immunization requirements. At about 2.5% of California kindergartners, that is the highest rate since 1978.

Even more concerning though is that exemption rates are much higher in certain school districts and communities in the state.

A little further north, in Washington, a new state law is encouraging more parents to vaccinate their kids though. While parents in Washington can still get vaccine exemptions, they have to get it from a licensed health care provider who can discuss the benefits and risks of vaccines with the parents. About 6.2% of kindergarteners in Washington state had exemptions to vaccines during the 2009 to 2010 school year - the highest rate in the United States.

Other states with high numbers of vaccine exemptions, include Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont.

Will the Washington law change vaccine exemptions in the state or influence how other states handle exemptions?

Related:
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Vaccination Exemptions

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