The 34-year-old mother Kardie Lee, who lives in Murrieta, decided to home-school her daughter London three years ago when California implemented one of the strictest immunization laws in the country.
The law requires that all children be up to date on their vaccinations to attend school, unless a doctor says otherwise, so the choice for Lee was simple: her daughter would not attend school.
The mother told LA Times that “we’ve become a state where they force vaccination, and she’s totally against vaccination”.
The law, however, doesn’t apply for homeschool children, and it makes it a loophole that parents seem to be exploiting increasingly.
The number of kindergarteners who were home-schooled quadrupled, according to an analysis of state data by Times.
So, there are now thousands of home-school children all over the state who are not vaccinated, and that number keeps rising every year.
Even though most of their schooling takes place at home, most of these children are part of programs that meet with other students several times a week, meaning that if they contracted a disease (such as measles), they could still spread it out.
They can also spread it out at the park, at the mall, or anywhere they go.
A UCLA expert on pediatric infectious diseases, Dr. James Cherry, said that these children frequently get together with vaccinated children, and if there’s a cluster, and a disease gets introduced, there are going to be a lot of cases, and that’s likely to happen.
The strict vaccination law was passed in California in 2015 after there was a major measles outbreak centered around Disneyland. Scientists say that it was fueled by rising members of the anti-vaxxer community.
Prior to the law’s implementation, parents were allowed to fill out a form in which they could say that immunization was against their personal beliefs and avoid it.
However, parents now must get a doctor’s note saying that they have a medical reason not to be vaccinated.
California is only one of three states in the country that doesn’t allow parents to opt-out of vaccines due to their beliefs.
According to public health advocates, the law has been a success, and the state’s kindergarten vaccination rate was above 95% for the first time in a decade.
However, the law’s implementation also meant an increase in parents choosing to home-school their kids, and not vaccinating them.
There were 6,741 home-schooled unvaccinated kindergarteners in California in the school year that ended in June, compared with 1,880 in the 2016-17 school year.
Overall, 1.2% of the state’s kindergarteners were home-schooled and unvaccinated for the previous school year.
Nationally, the number of home-schooled students has been increasing for years. Between 1999 and 2012, the number of home-schooled children in the U.S. increased from 850,000 to 1.8 million, essentially doubling the number of home-schooled kids nationwide, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Education.
Advocates of California’s vaccination law say the trend is not driven by parents trying to avoid vaccination.
The number of home-schooled students has been on the rise for years on a national level, and the number increased from 850,000 in 1999 to 1.8 million in 2012, essentially doubling the number of home-schooled kids nationwide, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education.
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