APHA: Rates of Personal Belief Vaccination Exemptions Are Up

Ten percent of kindergarteners in California attend school with rates of PBE exceeding 5 percent

MONDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Ten percent of all kindergarteners in California go to schools where rates of personal belief exemptions (PBEs) from school vaccination requirements exceed 5 percent, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.

Alison M. Buttenheim, Ph.D., M.B.A., and Yelena Baras, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, investigated the proportion of all Californian kindergarteners and of Californian kindergarteners with one or more PBEs, who attended schools with PBE rates greater than 5 percent. They also identified school- and community-level characteristics associated with PBE in 2008. School- and community-level correlates of PBE were estimated using negative binomial regression.

The investigators found that 10 percent of all kindergarteners (495, 884) and 61 percent of kindergarteners with one or more PBEs (9,196) attended schools with a PBE rate greater than 5 percent. One-third of kindergarteners with one or more PBEs attended schools where the PBE rate was greater than 20 percent. Waldorf schools were found to be the most strongly associated with PBEs.

"More than 50,000 kindergarteners in California attend schools with epidemiologically worrisome rates of PBEs. Policies to limit both the prevalence and clustering of PBEs within schools are needed," the authors write.

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