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Rate Of Personal Belief Exemptions For Vaccines Declined Last Year

Eduardo Verdugo / AP

Eduardo Verdugo / AP

Many of the Californians who have been infected by measles during the current outbreak linked to Disneyland were unvaccinated.

In California, parents have been able to choose not to vaccinate their kids because of personal beliefs. But, a new law may have changed their course.

Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says there's been an upward trend in belief exemptions for 35 years. He says the recent decline may be a result of a 2012 law that requires parents to consult with a health care provider before signing the waiver.

And Blumberg says the law probably weeded out parents who were taking the easy way. 

“Let’s say they didn’t have the immunization records for their child, and they wanted their child to go to school, they could just choose the personal believe exemption in the past by signing the form, then they wouldn’t have to see their children’s health care provider to get them up to date for immunizations," says Blumber. "Now they have to see their health care provider anyway to sign the form, they might as well get them up to date.”

Mendocino County had a notable decrease in the number of vaccine belief exemptions from last year.

But Nevada, Placer, Humboldt and Santa Cruz counties still have high rates of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Kindergarten Assessment: Total Personal Belief Exemption Rates

Click here to see a chart on PBE rates.


Pauline Bartolone


Pauline Bartolone has been a journalist for more than 15 years, during which she was Capital Public Radio’s healthcare reporter from 2011-2015. Her work has aired frequently on National Public Radio.  Read Full Bio 

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