New State Law Requires Chicken Pox Vaccinations Before Children Enter Kindergarten, Day Care
California children must receive a chicken pox vaccination to enter kindergarten under a state law that took effect July 1, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Passed in 1999, the law also requires children 18 months or older to receive the vaccination prior to attending day care. If children have already contracted chicken pox, making them "naturally immun[e]," a note from a physician would fulfill the vaccine requirement. Exemptions to the law are permitted for "medical reasons and personal beliefs," the Mercury News reports. Although nearly 75% of children in the state receive the chicken pox vaccination by age two, Dr. Natalie Smith, head of the state Department of Health Service's immunization branch, said, "We are still having school outbreaks. This requirement is to make sure that all kids are vaccinated because, if they get older and don't get the diseases naturally, it's much worse in adults." Children who are vaccinated could still contract the disease, but their "lesions are far fewer and the illness much milder," Smith said. California also requires school children to receive vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella. Twenty-two other states require children to be vaccinated for chicken pox before entering school or day care (Feder, San Jose Mercury News, 7/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.