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East County News Service

August 3, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Besides stocking up on back-to-school supplies for your children, you’d best make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

A new state law requires that all California school children be vaccinated, including public and private schools as well as day care centers.  The only exceptions are for home-schooled or independent study students who do not attend classes, or if a doctor has authorized an exemption for medical reasons, such as allergy to a vaccine ingredient.

Religious or personal belief exemptions are no longer allowed under the law.

“The lower the number of unvaccinated students, the less likely it is for disease outbreaks to occur,” said Wilma Wooten, county public health officer.

The law was enacted following a measles outbreak in California that spread to multiple states.  About 2.4 percent of all children in kindergarten statewide last year still lacked at least some vaccines, down from 4.5 percent a year earlier.  Public health officials hope to reduce that number to nearly zero, with only children who have medical exemptions remaining unvaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, kids ages 4 to 6 need four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Preteens and teens need a Tdap booster to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends teens get vaccinated against human papilloma virus and meningococcal disease. Flu vaccines are urged for all schoolchildren.

If you don’t have medical insurance, you can receive free vaccines at a public health clinic.  Vaccines are also available through some pharmacies, for a modest fee. For more information call the County’s Health and Human Services Agency Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit

For more details on vaccine requirements under the new law see:

The new law will face a legal challenge.  A suit filed by Education 4 All, a local parents’ group, claims the law violates California’s guaranteed right to an education for every child.


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