Ignorance is infectious

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Washington state has one of the lowest childhood vaccination rates in the US: Currently, 6 percent of kids receive exemptions from a state law requiring that children be vaccinated before attending school. This is an abysmal rate, considering that, when community-level protection falls below a certain rate, the rate of infections will rise. We were glad to hear, then, that a new state law there is aiming to make it more difficult for parents to opt out of having their children vaccinated.

The law, which took effect in July, requires any parent who does not wish to comply with the childhood immunization requirements to obtain a certificate of exemption from a licensed health care provider. The certificate would ensure that the parent or guardian had been informed of the risks of foregoing the vaccinations, as well as the benefits of adhering to them. The hope, say state officials, is both to make it more difficult for parents to exempt their children, as well as to attempt to better inform them of the real necessity of the vaccine.

We applaud Washington officials for taking action against what has been a significant problem in their state. Washington has been at the forefront of anti-vaccine hysteria, and has the low vaccination rates to prove it, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. Obviously, this new measure is greatly needed.