A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina has found that the proportion of kindergarteners with medical exemptions from school vaccination mandates in California has decreased from 2019 to 2021. However, the percentage of kindergarteners who are not up to date with vaccinations has risen during the same period, likely due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research team analyzed data from the California Department of Public Health’s Kindergarten Immunization Assessment reports for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school years. They observed that after the state eliminated nonmedical exemptions from school-entry vaccination requirements in 2016, there was a rapid increase in medical exemptions, raising concerns about their inappropriate use.
In January 2021, California enacted Senate Bills 276 and 714 (collectively known as SB276), which increased the state’s oversight of medical exemptions. As a result, the proportion of kindergarteners with medical exemptions decreased from 0.95% in 2019 to 0.27% in 2021.
However, the study also revealed that the percentage of kindergarteners who were not up to date with required vaccinations increased from 5.71% (31,669 children) in 2019 to 7.15% (34,723 children) in 2020, before decreasing slightly to 6.01% (30,290 children) in 2021. Additionally, the proportion of kindergarteners overdue for vaccination and those not subject to vaccine requirements also increased during this period.
The researchers emphasized the need for enhanced monitoring and assessment to ensure that children who fell behind on vaccinations during the pandemic receive them before entering school. They noted that in 26 out of 58 counties, the percentage of kindergarteners not up to date with vaccinations increased by over 0.5%. However, there were also 13 counties where this percentage decreased by over 0.5%.
Further analysis of the data revealed that medical exemptions to vaccination declined in 19 counties but increased in 4, while the number of children not subject to vaccination requirements increased in 13 counties and decreased in 2.
In conclusion, while there has been a decrease in medical exemptions, the study highlights the need for enhanced monitoring and assessment to ensure that children catch up on vaccinations they may have missed due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
– University of North Carolina researchers
– California Department of Public Health’s Kindergarten Immunization Assessment reports
– California Senate Bills 276 and 714