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Health Officials: Parents Opting out of Measles Shots Contributing to Outbreak

Orange County parents -- in some school districts a sizable amount -- are enrolling their kindergarteners without vaccinating them. Meanwhile, the spread of measles here is far outpacing the rest of the state.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Parents consciously choosing not to vaccinate their children for measles is exacerbating an outbreak in Orange County, a state health official said.

“The current pertussis and measles outbreaks in the state are perfect examples of the consequences and costs to individuals and communities when parents choose not to vaccinate their children,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director, state epidemiologist, Center for Infectious Diseases in the California Department of Public Health.  

Orange County’s 21 reported measles cases this year is far outpacing the rest of the state, public health officials recently said.

One contributing factor is parents who decide against immunization.

The Orange County Register reported that parents are opting out of measles vaccines when they enroll their children into kindergarten at the following rates around Orange County:

  • Capistrano Unified: About 9 percent
  • Laguna Beach Unified: 12 percent
  • Newport Mesa Unified: 6 percent

Saddleback Unified, Fountain Valley Schools and Los Alamitos Unified all came in with waiver rates between 2.7-5.2 percent.

Californians can skip vaccinations for religious reasons and don’t have to explain that is their reason. But the state passed a law in 2012 requiring parents who opt out to sign a document that verifies they understand the benefits of vaccines, reports the AllGov blog, which monitors governmental agencies.

“Parents make decisions about immunizations for their children based on their understanding of the risks of immunizations versus the risks of the diseases which immunizations prevent,” Chavez told Patch.

“We want parents to have an accurate understanding about how safe immunizations are how dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases can be to their child, family and community.”

Dr. Matt Zahn of the Orange County Health Care Agency said he’s frustrated. Measles was eradicated in the U.S. Now it’s back, and the danger isn't just from foreigners.

Even more frustrating is that the vaccine is perfectly safe, he said.

Concerns that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism and other maladies is scientifically unfounded, Zahn said. 

nobody April 27, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Listen, my kids have every single vaccine, and I'm sure that if they didn't, they are strong and healthy enough to fight an infection as measles. But immunizing my children also protect others that are not so lucky. And since we travel to another countries, we won't bring any disease.
OldTimer April 28, 2014 at 01:25 AM
Good. I am glad you are socially conscious, nobody. I applaud you. But I don't feel comfortable forcing other people to be like you. When I was a kid I hated to eat eggs. And I really resented it when I was forced to eat eggs for my own good. I never forgot that lesson and swore to myself that I would never force my likes (or dislikes) on another human no matter how much good I think it would bring to them. I am a big individual freedom advocate. The more we force other people to do as we want the less freer we become. I value freedom. Not only for myself but also for others. Will Durant once said " If man asks for many laws it is only because he is sure that his neighbor needs them; privately he is an unphilosophical anarchist, and thinks laws in his own case superfluous."
nobody April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Then what?, Is there a solution? People will have the freedom to don't vaccinate themselves and their kids, go to other countries and bring back infectious diseases? I believe your rights end where another's begin. Saying "I want my freedom to don't immunize my family, and if someone else get sick "too bad", it's kind of sociopath.
OldTimer April 28, 2014 at 06:59 PM
You misunderstood me, nobody. Those Americans who CHOOSE to visit a high-risk disease nation and plan to return to the US should be mandated to get a MMR injection - and any other injection that prevents picking up a prevalent disease in said foreign country. And all foreigners who travel from a high-risk nation to America should also be forced to get innoculated. This is a result of their OWN CHOICE. A little American child had no choice about where he or she was born. That child took no action to deserve a FORCED MMR INJECTION. For that reason it should an OPTION, not a mandate. And, as I mentioned, the borders should be sealed up so illegal indigents can't import their disease(s) into America and infect our citizens. That one is a no-brainer. I hope I clarified my position for you, nobody.
nobody May 01, 2014 at 02:12 PM
There is no relationship between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism rates in children. Putting children at risk of getting infected will not help. Autism is an urgent health concern and we should support comprehensive research for understanding the causes of autism and other developmental disorders.

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