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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Vaccine Refusal in California

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism.

At CNN, John Bonifield reports that Califorinia kindergarteners most likely to have a personal-belief vaccine exemption are wealthy and white, according to a recent study.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Heath, looked at more than 6,200 California schools and found vaccine exemptions were twice as common among kindergartners attending private institutions.
"If you live in a rich, white community where lots of people don't vaccinate their kids, that could be dangerous," said Tony Yang, a health policy professor at George Mason University and author of the study.
According to a 2011 study in Public Health Reports, when parents refuse vaccines it's usually due to concerns about children receiving too many shots or developing side effects, including autism. This despite an exhaustive review last year of 20,000 scientific titles and 67 papers that concluded childhood vaccines are safe, and a complete retraction of the study that spawned the fear that vaccines cause autism.
Yang's study didn't investigate why wealthier, white families in the state are more likely to reject vaccines. One reason may be that some parents are trying to protect their children's immunity from diseases by insisting on specialized diets and natural living practices instead of vaccines, according to a different study.
 In Palm Springs, CA, Kristen Hwang reports at The Desert Sun:
At the start of the new year, California's new mandatory vaccine law will begin phasing out personal and religious belief exemptions for students at both public and private schools.
About 60 students in the valley's three public school districts will need to start updating their vaccinations before entering kindergarten or seventh grade - the two "checkpoint" years when vaccination compliance is recorded - and about 330 will need to provide proof of immunization over the next six years. Students in seventh through 12th grade who already have personal or religious belief exemptions on file will be allowed to keep those waivers. But if a student transfers school districts the district does not have to honor their waivers.
Earlier this year Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law abolishing personal and religious belief exemption waivers for children who receive their education in "classroom-based instruction." The legislation came several months after California experienced a measles outbreak linked to an infected person at Disneyland. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 113 people across several states contracted the measles in connection with this outbreak, most of whom were not vaccinated.
The mandate does not involve the flu vaccine.  At The Los Angeles Times, Mariaelena Gonzalez, Jennifer Mendiola and Van Do-Reynoso write that 24% of second-generation Latinos and 15% of third-generation Latinos in California got a flu vaccination in 2014, compared with 61% of first-generation Latinos.
There is one simple explanation for why vaccination rates among second- and third-generation Latinos differ so significantly from those of their newcomer parents and grandparents. Mexico heavily promotes vaccination in general, and it has the highest rate of flu vaccination among people older than 65 in nations that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the U.S., however, many people aren't persuaded by public health campaigns for flu shots; they are suspicious of vaccinations, wrongly believing that shots cause health problems rather than prevent them.