Kid vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs drop in California
Two notable immunization trends emerged with the passage of California’s vaccine law which took effect in July 2016. Under SB 277 parents can no longer cite personal beliefs as a reason to not vaccinate their children. Since then, immunization rates increased overall and reached a key threshold statewide, according to Kidsdata.org.
Additionally, the number of exemptions from immunizations for personal beliefs dropped while the number of exemptions for medical reasons increased.
Trend 1: The state has achieved herd immunity for the most contagious diseases, including measles. In 2019, 95% of California kindergartners were immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases. However, 27 counties have not reached the 95% threshold, among counties with data.
Trend 2: The number of exemptions for personal beliefs dropped precipitously from a high in 2014 of 16,817, in accordance with the law. In contrast, exemptions for permanent medical reasons increased from 991 in 2014 to 4,812 in 2019.
Protecting individual children and the community of children from vaccine-preventable diseases leads to healthier lives and reduced health care costs. The 2016 policy change directly and immediately impacted immunization rates statewide, but local communities also require the same high level of immunization rates to maximize protection. Continued policy efforts can bring the same level of protection to all children.