California’s vaccination rates show law is working: Editorial – LA Daily News
California’s new child vaccination law doesn’t go into effect until July, but new data released last week by the state Department of Health indicate it’s already working.
It’s great news for Californians and public health officials who were alarmed that the decline in state vaccination rates threatened to make it easier for communicable diseases to take hold and spread.
California’s vaccination rate for kindergartners at public and private schools increased 2.5 percentage points from last year to 92.9 percent. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a 90 percent vaccination rate is needed to keep diseases such as measles and whooping cough from spreading.
There is good news close to home, as well.
Southland counties all showed increases in vaccination rates, meeting the state minimum standard.
Los Angeles and Ventura county schools reported the biggest gains, showing a 4 percent and 4.1 percent increase in kindergarten vaccinations, respectively.
Though it meets the state threshold with a 90 percent rate, Los Angeles County lagged other Southern California counties. Orange County (92.5) nearly matched the state average, while Ventura County (94.2 percent), San Bernardino County (94.9 percent), and Riverside County (95.2) all performed better than the average.
But public health officials statewide still have work to do. Overall, 20 of California’s 58 counties failed to meet the state minimum standard.
Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen deserve a huge amount of credit for shepherding Senate Bill 277 through the Legislature and winning Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature last year. The bill established tougher requirements for children to attend school or day care in California, and eliminated the personal exemption that allowed parents to refuse to vaccinate their children.
Pan, a Sacramento Democrat, is a pediatrician. He is well aware of the vaccination fears expressed by a small but active group of parents.
The CDC remains adamant that vaccines are “one of the greatest public health developments of the last century.” The agency reported last fall that it constantly monitors vaccine safety and that the current U.S. supply is “the safest in history.”
More than 50 credible studies were examined by experts at UCLA, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Rand Corp., and they all determined that while vaccine problems do occur, they are “extremely rare.” A comprehensive 2013 report from the independent Institute of Medicine reached a similar conclusion.
Health officials across the state join them in believing that the risk inherent in failing to vaccinate children is vastly outweighed by the public health benefits of vaccination. The Disneyland measles outbreak last year demonstrated the risk from failing to vaccinate our kids. The new law puts science before fear and will make California’s children significantly healthier.