News & Politics

In California, a Clear and Present Danger from 'Anti-Vaxxers'

Want to import Third World diseases long thought to have been eradicated in the United States, or at least kept under control? No need to bring folks in from abroad any more; instead, wealthy white California liberals will do it for you:

In California, the kindergarten students most likely to be exempt from mandatory vaccinations based on their parent’s personal beliefs are white and wealthy, according to a recent study.

The percentage of kindergartners with state-issued personal belief exemptions doubled from 2007 to 2013, from 1.54% to 3.06%. That’s about 17,000 children, out of more than half a million, opting out. Vaccine exemption percentages were higher in mostly white, high-income neighborhoods such as Orange County, Santa Barbara and parts of the Bay Area.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Heath, looked at more than 6,200 California schools and found vaccine exemptions were twice as common among kindergartners attending private institutions. “If you live in a rich, white community where lots of people don’t vaccinate their kids, that could be dangerous,” said Tony Yang, a health policy professor at George Mason University and author of the study.

The California I grew up in was the California of Jonas Salk — a state hero — which led the fight against deadly childhood diseases such as polio. Now, Golden State “progressives” seek to return the country as a whole to a state of pre-Enlightenment medical primitivism.

According to a 2011 study in Public Health Reports, when parents refuse vaccines it’s usually due to concerns about children receiving too many shots or developing side effects, including autism. This despite an exhaustive review last year of 20,000 scientific titles and 67 papers that concluded childhood vaccines are safe, and a complete retraction of the study that spawned the fear that vaccines cause autism.

Yang’s study didn’t investigate why wealthier, white families in the state are more likely to reject vaccines. One reason may be that some parents are trying to protect their children’s immunity from diseases by insisting on specialized diets and natural living practices instead of vaccines, according to a different study.

In June, California lawmakers outlawed personal belief exemptions, starting next summer. A “grandfather” clause will continue to exempt some children.

Well, at least that’s a step in the right direction. When faddish notions about “autism” present a public-health problem, the state is right to intervene.