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Washington state starts school year with tougher requirements for vaccine exemptions

Overall, the population of children in the United States who have not received any vaccinations remains low, less than one percent according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But in some areas of the country the number of school-age kids who have not been inoculated can be much higher. Nearly 2.5 percent of the 470,000 kindergartners in California missed at least one vaccine in 2010 and in some areas of the state, such as Sonoma, Marin and Santa Cruz counties, this figure jumped to six percent.

This year, Washington state, which has one of the highest school-immunization exemption rates in the country, passed a new law in an effort to raise the bar for parents seeking vaccine exemptions for their children. Shots reports:

The law, which took effect in July, requires parents who don't want to meet state immunization requirements for school to obtain a certificate of exemption from a licensed health care provider. The certificate verifies that the pediatrician or other health care provider has discussed the benefits and risks of vaccines with the parents.

State laws vary widely on how easy they make it for parents to get vaccine waivers, and some have implemented requirements similar to Washington, says Dr. Douglas Diekema, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "What we know is that the more rigorous you make it to get an objection approved, the higher the vaccination rate," he says.

It will be interesting to see if the new law reduces the percentage of unvaccinated children in Washington and if other states adopt similar laws.

Previously: European experts debunk six myths about flu shot, Vaccination could eliminate chicken pox-related deaths in the U.S., How to save $83 billion? Vaccinate, A look at the causes and potential cost of the U.S. measles outbreaks, Unvaccinated children may pose a public health risk and Why this fear of vaccines?
Photo by woodleywonderworks

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