Less than 5 years after SB 277 was signed into law and removed personal belief vaccination exemptions for children in public schools, the number of vaccinated children in California has skyrocketed.
A recently released study in the the medical journal PLOS Medicine has found that measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines have seen a 3.3% increase in California, a similar declination of exemptions, and no major outbreak of diseases like the measles since the Disneyland case in 2014 – the very incident that sparked passage of SB 277.
Vaccination rates have also shot up from 92.8% in 2015 to 95% in 2017.
Child vaccinations also saw the largest climb in high-risk counties, where vaccination rates went up nearly 10%.
“This is really good news for California,” said Dr. Richard Nguyen, a pediatrician. “There had been an uptick of parents refusing to vaccinate their kids for all sorts of reasons, but now it’s getting back to normal.”
“Less kids are getting sick, and I’ve actually been getting apologies from parents who had formerly cursed me out over having to ‘be forced to vaccinate their kids’ because they believed the myth that they can cause autism or weaken them in some way. I actually got a voicemail last week from a mother of a child I do checkups on who said she was sorry for not believing me and ‘other doctors’ after her daughter had a recent measles scare.”
Recently passed laws such as the hotly contested SB 276, which cut back on the number of medical exemptions and now allows investigations on doctors who write more than 5 medical exemptions a year, also show that California lawmakers and citizens are gradually moving away from anti-vaccination beliefs.
“A large reason for the growth is that it’s now almost forced,” said John Graves, a policy expert in Los Angeles. “Parents aren’t given the choice anymore. The vast majority of parents believe in vaccines and want them for their own children because they don’t want an outbreak or to spread debilitating diseases. So parents who want to opt out are ostracized.”
“From the cases I’ve seen, other parents understand if it’s for a religious purpose or because there’s a medical reason like an allergy or something to the vaccine. They’ll just be more careful around the children who don’t have vaccines. But nearly all parents can’t stand those that don’t want to do it for the hell of it, or if they’re misguided.”
“This is a health and wellness issue, and it always has been. If it’s not for a legitimate reason, most parents think the person who doesn’t vaccinate doesn’t love their child. I’ve seen a lot of similarities between this and in the 70’s and 80’s when seat-belt buckling for children became a huge issue, when there were claims that the seat belts hurt their kids more than helped them.”
“But now we’re seeing the tide turn with those new studies. It just took a lot of time for some parents to start getting it.”