This year's measles outbreak led directly to California lawmakers proposing a change to state law that would all but eliminate the ability for parents to cite personal beliefs in keeping their kids from being vaccinated. It seems that, despite all the science to the contrary, parents are still worried about adverse effects from vaccines in particular, autism and way too many have used their fears to cite the personal belief exemption in this state. As the New York Times now shows us via an interactive info-graphic, vaccination rates at many kindergartens throughout the Bay Area are way below where they need to be to preserve what the CDC calls "herd immunity."
As the New York Times reports, after stalling last week, the new bill passed through California's Senate Education Committee after adding an exemption related to home-schooling basically parents who outright refuse to get their children immunized can band together to form mini schools of their own, or independent study programs that are run by public school systems. Otherwise, all kids enrolled in regular schools will have to get vaccinated unless they have a health-related exemption.
I note from scanning the interactive map that there's a small private school in Sausalito where half the kindergarten is not vaccinated, and there's one here in San Francisco where only 60 percent are vaccinated.
According to the survey, Asians tend to be most well vaccinated statewide, however there are pockets around the Bay Area where mostly Asian neighborhoods have low vaccination rates. Across California, the rate of non-vaccinated children under the personal belief exemption has more than doubled in the last 15 years, from 1 percent in 2000 to 2.5 percent currently.
Dr. Richard Pan, a state senator who co-sponsored the bill, keeps reinforcing the idea that so-called herd immunity is necessary to protect those few children who can't, medically, get vaccinated. "These children deserve protection, they need to be safe."
The bill still needs to pass through one more committee and a full vote of the senate.