California’s kindergarten vaccination rate dropped again in the most recent school year as more parents sought permission from doctors to not immunize their children, according to new state data.
The troubling trend comes amid a national measles outbreak as well as intense debate over whether California should strengthen its school immunization laws.
California already has one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country, preventing children from skipping their shots unless a doctor says they have a medical reason to be exempt. Some health advocates fear that parents are obtaining exemptions for their children without valid medical reasons. Those advocates are now pushing lawmakers to clamp down on fraudulent exemptions.
In the school year that ended last month, 4,812 kindergartners had obtained medical exemptions from vaccines, a 70% increase from two years ago, when the vaccination law first took effect, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. The data suggest that large concentrations of medical exemptions are being granted to school children in relatively affluent parts of the state, such as Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties.
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