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Bill Attempts To Reduce Number Of Unimmunized Children In California

A new bill would require parents who want to exempt their schoolkids from required vaccinations to get information from a health provider first.

— California pediatricians are rallying behind a bill that deals with parents who want to exempt their kids from vaccinations. The measure would require parents to speak with a health provider first.

Kids in California are required to be vaccinated against a host of diseases, including polio and measles, before entering kindergarten and the 7th grade.

California is one of 20 states that allows parents a personal belief exemption to avoid getting their children immunized for school. Over the last decade statewide, the number of these exemptions has tripled.

East County Pediatrician Stuart Cohen said there are now about 11,500 kindergartners in the state who haven't gotten their shots.

"We don't want to turn back to the 40s and 50s, where we had polio and measles epidemics," Dr. Cohen said. "We really want to have an accurate, informed discussion with parents that the schedule and the number of vaccines are safe. "

The measure would require parents who wanted to exempt their kids to first get information on vaccines from a licensed practitioner. Parents would have to present a signed document to school officials to that effect, before requesting an exemption.

The bill will get its first hearing in the state Assembly next month.

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