AirTalk for March 20, 2014

Are vaccine waivers causing the increase in California's measles cases?

Miami-Dade County Gives Child Immunizations Before School Begins

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Wilson Fenelon, 12, reacts as Josette Thomas, a school nurse, gives him an immunization shot August 8, 2007 in Hialeah, Florida.

Figures from the California Department of Public Health show that 32 cases of measles have been reported so far this year. That's up from just 3 cases by this time last year. KPCC reports that nearly half of the cases - 14 in total - come from children who were intentionally not vaccinated.

The state allows parents to opt out of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, known as the ‘MMR’, that's required for children to attend school by filling out a personal belief waiver.

A new state law that took effect Jan 1, 2014 makes it slightly more difficult to obtain the waivers by requiring parents to meet with a health care provider to talk about the risks and benefits of vaccines before requesting an exemption.

Officials at the CDPH have urged parents against opting out of vaccinating their children since an increase in the number of unvaccinated children could lead to even more cases of the disease.

Is there a link between the number of unvaccinated children and the increase in measles cases so far this year? From a public health perspective, do personal belief waivers make sense?

Search kindergarten immunization levels in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties here

Guests: 

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Dr. Oliver Brooks, Chief of pediatrics at Watts Healthcare Corporation and Vice Chair of the California Immunization Coalition

 


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