Cracking Down on Vaccinations

A handful of US states are enacting laws that make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children against infectious diseases.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Oct 8, 2012

Image: United States Department of Health and Human ServicesState legislatures across the US are trying to increase the number of children who receive vaccinations against disease by enacting laws that make opting out of those shots tougher for parents. California, Vermont, and Washington—states that allow parents to decline scheduled vaccinations for their children for personal or philosophical reasons—require parents opting out to provide proof that a health-care practitioner or representative of the state's health department gave them scientific information about the risks and benefits of those vaccinations. State lawmakers in New Jersey and Arizona have floated ideas for similar legislation.

Even in the face of recent outbreaks of whooping cough and other diseases, vaccine exemption rates are rising across the nation. An average of 1.5 percent of US children entering kindergarten in 2010-2011 had an exemption, and rates in some states are even higher. "There really is a problem...

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