San Diego Union-Tribune

Give California an A for its kindergarten immunization rate

April 13, 2017
By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

In a win for science and for student safety, school vaccination rates are the highest they have been in California in at least 15 years.

A year after the implementation of tougher state-mandated vaccination requirements, a new report by the California Department of Public Health shows that 95.6 percent of kindergartners in the current school year received all their required immunizations. The state called it the highest immunization rate since at least the 2001-2002 school year when the number of needed inoculations expanded to include the varicella vaccine.

The 95.6 percent rate is up 2.8 percentage points from the previous year, which itself was up 2.4 percentage points from the year before that, a trend that bodes well for what Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, calls “community immunity.” Pan sponsored Senate Bill 277, signed into law in 2015, that required kindergartners without medical exemptions to get vaccinations and eliminated personal and religious belief exemptions, making California’s vaccination laws some of the nation’s toughest.

The new state public health report attributed the uptick over the past two years to vaccination education efforts, increased public awareness after a measles outbreak at Disneyland, compliance audits and new vaccination laws.

Laws such as SB 277 show Sacramento at its finest. Lawmakers recognized a problem, allowed for passionate debate and ultimately took steps to make a bad situation better. If only those same lawmakers could do that for the state’s housing crisis.