Kindergarteners' Vaccination Rates Hit Record High

A new state law that eliminated personal belief exemption waivers for vaccines among schoolchildren appears to be having its intended effect. According to the latest data, California’s kindergarteners now have the highest vaccination rates of all time, with 95.6 percent receiving all necessary immunizations in 2016-2017.

Catherine Flores Martin, director of the California Immunization Coalition, called the news “a big win for schools and communities.”

County by County

For necessary “herd immunity” to kick in, experts say a community needs a vaccination rate of about 90 to 95 percent. Inoculations were highest in Tulare (98.5 percent), followed by San Benito (98.1). There were 9 counties, however, in which rates were below the critical 90 percent threshold. You can view the county data here.

A Look Back

California first began seeing a decline in vaccination rates following the 1998 publication of a now defunct study in the British Scientific Journal. The report, which was promoted by a number of celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, linked vaccines to autism based on erroneous and outright fraudulent research.

By 2013, the state’s measles vaccination rate had hit an all-time low of 92.3% among kindergarteners. More than 150 people were sickened by the preventable disease during an outbreak at Disneyland the following year. According to an analysis published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, the rash of illnesses was a direct result of parents’ growing unwillingness to vaccinate their children.