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.