Fewer California Parents Refuse to Vaccinate Children: Analysis

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Caitlin Canelli administers a shot to 2-month-old Olive McCaffrey of Santa Monica. The number of California parents refusing to vaccinate their kindergartners dropped slightly in 2014. (Credit: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times)

The number of California parents who cite personal beliefs in refusing to vaccinate their kindergartners dropped in 2014 for the first time in a dozen years, according to a Times data analysis.

The shift came amid rising alarm over the number of children being exempted from immunization, which prompted new campaigns to reverse the trend.

A state law that went into effect last year made it more difficult for parents to excuse kindergartners from vaccines. Instead of signing a form, parents now must get a signature from a healthcare provider saying that they have been counseled on the risks of rejecting vaccinations. Alternatively, they can declare they are followers of a religion that prohibits them from seeking medical advice from healthcare practitioners.

School districts with lower immunization rates have also been aggressively pressing parents to reconsider vaccinations, including sending them letters and directing them to free clinics that provide the shots.

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