Chart of the Day: Vaccinate Your Kids!

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Via the LA Times from a few months ago, here’s the rise in “personal belief” exemptions from state-mandated vaccinations among kindergartners in California:

And here’s where it’s happening:

In Los Angeles County, the rise in personal belief exemptions is most prominent in wealthy coastal and mountain communities, The Times analysis shows. The more than 150 schools with exemption rates of 8% or higher for at least one vaccine were located in census tracts where the incomes averaged $94,500 — nearly 60% higher than the county median.

….At Santa Cruz Montessori in the small coastal community of Aptos, about 7% of kindergartners in 2007 got belief exemptions. Last fall, that rate was 22.6%. Principal Kathy Rideout said the school has tried different approaches to encourage parents to immunize children. They asked a doctor to talk with fellow parents. They produced handouts emphasizing the importance of immunizations and asked parents seeking belief exemptions to get counseling from a healthcare practitioner. A state law that went into effect this year makes this a requirement. But none of it made much difference, Rideout said.

….“We have schools in California where the percent of children who exercise the personal belief exemption is well above 50%,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases. “That’s going to be a challenge for any disease that is vaccine preventable.”

There are times when it’s appropriate to be skeptical of authority. This really isn’t one of them. “Big Vaccine” is not an issue in American life. Childhood vaccination is just a matter of public health that no one has any real motivation to lie about. Please don’t get sucked into this maelstrom. Get your kids vaccinated.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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