SACRAMENTO – Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and author of legislation targeted at boosting vaccine rates, called to new data released today by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) indicating that, in its first year of realization, Senate Bill 277 is raising school vaccine rates to levels not seen in a decade and a half.
“I am pleased that this first year of the implementation of SB277 has resulted in the significant rise of the vaccination rate of this year’s Kindergarten class,” said Dr. Pan. “This success is a first step toward reducing the number of unimmunized people putting our families at-risk for preventable diseases, thereby restoring community immunity throughout our state in the coming years.”
According to the results revealed today by CDPH in their annual immunization evaluation, the proportion of kindergarten students who received the required vaccines significantly increased from 93 percent during the 2015-16 school year, to 96 percent during the 2016-17 school year, a rate above the 94 percent needed to prevent measles transmission. (www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Pages/ImmunizationLevels.aspx)
Dr. Pan jointly authored SB 277 with Senator Ben Allen (Santa Monica) and the bill was sponsored by Vaccinate California, a parent advocacy group established to improve public health by increasing vaccination rates.
“As a grassroots group made up of concerned parents and community members we are encouraged by today’s report,” said Leah Russin a mother and co-founder of Vaccinate California. “There is no doubt SB277 is working, which means a healthier, safer California. We are confident overall vaccination rates will continue increasing as parents protect their children and communities, making our state more resilient to preventable disease outbreak.”
Students who entered school in 2016-17 are the first to be officially registered under Senate Bill 277, which eradicated the personal belief exception to legally required vaccines for school entry.
Previously, Dr. Pan authored Assembly Bill 2109 in 2012, which obliged all parents who requested a personal belief exemption from vaccines to be counseled by a licensed health care provider. In the first year of the implementation of the law, the rate of vaccine waivers for kindergartners entering school dwindled to 2.5% in 2014 from 3.1% in 2013; the first reversal of a decades-long increase in use of personal belief exemptions.
Measles was proclaimed eliminated from the United States in 2000. However, in the same year, the dishonored author of a fraudulent paper published in The Lancet in 1998, which the medical journal later draw it back, showed up on a 60 Minutes broadcast wrongly claiming the MMR vaccine caused autism. Stoked by unproven anxiety about vaccines, personal belief exemptions to legally required vaccines for school entry rose in California until the realization of AB 2109, and the United States noticed an increase in measles and pertussis outbreaks. Since parents called for the restoration of community immunity to vaccine preventable diseases, Dr. Richard Pan and Senator Ben Allen authored SB 277 following measles outbreak that started at Disneyland infected 136 people, and the death of 10 infants in the 2010 pertussis outbreak in California.
The CDPH data demonstrates that while vaccination rates rose for this Kindergarten class, the number of unvaccinated people who were exempted from vaccination when they entered school in previous years is still large, and it will take years before community immunity to vaccine preventable diseases is completely restored throughout our state.