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California’s Aggressive Pro-Vaccination Policies Have Made a Big Difference

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Vials of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines are displayed at a Walgreens Pharmacy in Mill Valley, California, on January 26th, 2015.

Federal health officials recently announced that there have been 971 cases of measles in the United States so far this year—a higher number than the 963 cases reported for all of 1992, the year America saw its last major outbreak. California has been ahead of the curve in dealing with this public-health problem, and just-published research finds that the state’s efforts have paid off in a big way.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that two new state laws limiting exemptions from mandated vaccines, along with an educational campaign aimed at school staff members, have greatly reduced schoolchildren’s risk of contracting the disease.

Between 2013 and 2017, California saw “a decrease in the yearly rates of kindergartners without up-to-date vaccination status,” reports a research team led by S. Cassandra Pingali of Emory University. An accompanying editorial calls this “a promising outcome in California, resulting from policy changes.”

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