The 2015 measles outbreak spread from California to at least seven other states. In these states are areas where clusters exist where families use nonmedical exemptions to opt out of vaccinations. Dr. Tony Yang is a George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services researcher whose work in health policy and law has begun to understand the contributions of these exemptions on disease outbreaks. Dr. Yang’s work is helping to provide evidence-based information about current laws and public health implications. His recent article provided a toolbox for legislatures to understand the policy options and potential impacts of allowing nonmedical exemptions for vaccination requirements.
The College hosted a webinar on the subject of measles featuring Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen (Global and Community Health), Dr. Tony Yang (Health Administration and Policy), and Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu (Fairfax County Health Department), moderated by Dr. PJ Maddox (Health Administration and Policy). The webinar video is below. Speaker presentations and bios are on the Event Webpage.
Dr. Yang is available for interviews. Please contact Dr. Christine Coussens via email or call 703-993-1931. Journalists on deadline, or after hours, are advised to contact the Community Engagement office by email rather than office phone. Please put ON DEADLINE in the subject of the email, and be as specific as possible with your request.
The percentage of kindergartners with state-issued personal belief exemptions doubled from 2007 to 2013, from 1.54% to 3.06%. That's about 17,000 children, out of more than half a million, opting out. Read more.
In some suburban areas, rates of exemption were near 50 percent, and more than a quarter of California’s schools have measles immunization rates below the 92 to 94 percent required for herd immunity, the level of vaccination necessary to protect people who are not immune. Read more.
If a state allows parents to obtain religious exemptions from vaccination requirements for school entry, can it temporarily exclude unvaccinated children from school during an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable illness without violating the family's constitutional rights? Read more.
Legislation to change whether parents may refuse school vaccinations for their children appears to be common in some states, according to a new analysis. However, those bills are rarely passed into law. Read more.