The subject of vaccinations and immunizations is very important for public health. There are many issues still under debate when it comes to who needs to be immunized and who can be exempted. The states have different laws governing these issues. In a recent study looking at California’s new and stricter vaccination policies, the results show the impact and benefits of these measures. As a result, other states may be looking to restrict their immunization exemption allowances as well. There’s no easy solution to this matter, but ongoing research and relevant data can help to inform parents, schools, and policymakers better as they make important decisions concerning the immunization of children under their care.
How Vaccinations and Immunizations Work
A vaccine is a type of biological treatment used to give someone immunity to a particular disease. This is given through a vaccination, which is usually by injection or orally. Immunization is the process of getting the vaccine and becoming immune to the disease.
Vaccinations have been in use for a long time. They have played an important role in public health in the fight against diseases such as polio, measles, and tetanus, to name a few. The earliest occasion when a state passed an immunization order as law was in Massachusetts in 1809. The smallpox vaccination was made mandatory to tackle the deadly disease. Since then, other states have had other similar laws, especially where school-going children are concerned.
Vaccination Fears, Risks, and Exemptions
History has many records to show the great impact and benefits that vaccinations have brought. That being said, there are also a number of objections to vaccinations, and the matter continues to draw a lot of fear, criticism, debate, and controversy. Exemption policies allow parents to apply for their children to be exempted from being vaccinated for various reasons. These allowances also differ by state.
Some of the most common objections to immunization include religious, medical, and philosophical reasons. If the parents of a child have religious objections to immunization, most states in the United States allow them to appeal for an exemption. If the parents have a philosophical objection to vaccinations, less than half of the states are willing to grant such an exemption. This could be any personal reason, such as questioning the need for a vaccine or the effectiveness of it. Medical reasons to be exempted include a weak immune system or a chronic illness.
The Case of California
According to scientists in a new study reported in JAMA, the three stricter immunization policies implemented by the state of California have resulted in higher vaccination rates amongst the state’s kindergarteners. In 2014, California enacted a law to restrict immunization exemptions based on personal beliefs. In 2016, California enacted another state-wide law to remove the personal-belief exemption completely. In 2015, this state also put measures in place so that children who were behind on their vaccinations had to adhere to stricter requirements before beginning school.
The study used data from over 9 million children in California between the years of 2000 and 2017. Of significance was the drop in the number of children who were not caught up with their vaccinations after the new policies were put in place. The researchers also found that the chances of two unvaccinated children coming into contact with each other in school fell from 26 to 4.6 percent between 2014 and 2017.
The study is significant because it shows the important role that policymakers can play in getting children caught up on their vaccinations to prevent certain diseases. Other states may follow suit if they can settle the debate about who can and should be granted an exemption.