California law helps whooping cough spread
July 26, 2010
The recent rash in cases of whooping cough in California underscores some legal loopholes that experts say are helping the disease to spread. [California Watch]
California is currently one of eleven states that do not require school children to get a booster shot when they enter middle school–the time when their original childhood booster shots tend to wear off.
Public health officials are urging children aged 7 and older to be vaccinated against whooping cough, especially those who spend time around infants. Thus far in 2010, six babies have died of whooping cough.
The other loophole involves the right of California parents to cite personal beliefs as the reason for skipping vaccinations when their children first start kindergarten.
According to medical experts, the system in California is set up so that it is easier for parents to merely check a box indicating no vaccination wanted, than it is to complete the school immunization form that requires a health care clinician to obtain the child’s medical records.
The problem is that states that make it easier to exempt from whooping cough vaccinations see 90 percent more cases than other states.
At the same time, a 2009 study discovered that children who are not vaccinated for whooping cough are 23 times more likely to get it.
Research has shown that parents who cite personal beliefs in exempting children from vaccines are older, wealthier and more educated than parents who vaccinate.