In December 2014 California suffered a widespread outbreak of measles that originated at the Disneyland theme park. The outbreak has since been declared over. Still, many children continue to go unvaccinated, even though since 1962 California has required school aged children to provide documentation of immunizations. In the past many parents have cited religious or personal beliefs as a way of getting around vaccinating their children. Those reasons will no longer be relevant. Last year, after the measles outbreak had ended, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that eliminates exemptions and requires all students to be vaccinated.
Measles is extremely contagious. Signs first appear as a fever, then a runny nose and cough, followed by conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash will appear, first on the face and will then travel to the rest of the body. Typically, a person will be contagious up to four days prior to the rash and four days after it appears.
With the California state law going into effect July 1, students entering kindergarten and seventh grade must show proof of immunizations before being allowed into the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Sacramento sent home 145 students who had incomplete vaccination records.
Many parents were able to provide paperwork to the school that same day or picked up their child and had vaccinations completed at the districts clinic. By the following Friday, of the 72 kindergarteners and 73 seventh graders sent home, 37 kindergarteners and 61 seventh graders had still not brought in proof of immunizations.
Parents cite many reasons for not wanting to vaccinate their children. Many parents point to religious freedom or the misconception that vaccines cause autism. However, doctors continue to agree that vaccinations given at specific ages, builds the body’s immune system, protecting them against diseases. With California’s required vaccination law the pressure for anti-vaxxers to immunize their children will increase.