California’s Fraught History With Childhood Vaccines

2021-10-05 18:27:18

Between 2001 and 2014, the percentage of California parents choosing not to vaccinate their kindergartners more than tripled, pushing the state’s childhood vaccination rate to among the lowest in the nation.

When a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland infected more than 150 people in 2014, scientists blamed it on rising numbers of unvaccinated children.

The state’s vaccination rates eventually began to rise a few years later, after new laws greatly limited the ability of parents to opt out of childhood immunizations.

Fast-forward to the pandemic: Covid-19 vaccines are available to people 12 and older, and California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

Some of that widespread coverage, however, is because of vaccine requirements here, such as for students in the University of California system, health care workers and teachers.

Newsom extended those vaccine mandates on Friday, adding a coronavirus vaccine to the other inoculations that are required for nearly seven million students to attend K to 12 schools in person. Los Angeles Unified and a handful of other districts had already approved similar requirements for older children; a vaccine could be rolled out for 5- to 11-year-olds in November.

The governor said he expected that the requirement — which is contingent for each age group on full approval from the Food and Drug Administration — would apply to grades seven and up starting in July, in time for the next fall semester. He added that parents could cite medical and personal beliefs to opt out of the requirement.

“We want to end this pandemic,” Newsom said on Friday. “We are all exhausted by it.”

California parents so far have largely been willing to vaccinate their children against Covid-19, perhaps because the threat feels imminent or because vaccine resistance has increasingly become more common among the far right.

Across the country, 57 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. In California, the rate of vaccination among that age group is 69 percent, one of the highest in the nation.

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The oil spill off the Orange County coast may have been caused by a ship’s anchor.

Today’s travel tip comes from Pelle P. Smits, who recommends East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz:

“At foggy five o’clock in the morning, the East Cliff gets busy with people running and cycling, and many surfers dive into the sea to catch the first waves. Grab a coffee and some Mexican pastries at one of the plenty small businesses along the road, and walk past the wonderful beach houses down to Pleasure Point, where the sun breaks through the clouds around noon, opening up to stunning ocean views. In the afternoon, Twin Lakes State Beach serves as an excellent place to relax in the sand and sit by the fire at dusk.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

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