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Vaccination rates soar locally following controversial law - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Vaccination rates soar locally following controversial law

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With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, and a controversial state law in effect requiring every child to get their shots in order to attend school, vaccination rates locally are soaring.

"All children entering school must have all the required vaccines," said Dr. Christy Mulkerin, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department. 

Personal beliefs and religious reasons aren't valid excuses anymore to opt out, and the only way now to do so is through a medical exemption.

"So an example of a medical reason on why a child couldn't get vaccinated for school include recent leukemia or cancer and a person whose immune system can't handle the vaccines yet," Dr. Mulkerin said. 

Father of two Michael Phares decided to vaccinate his two girls, but that decision didn't come without judgment.

"We had a few people that said to us, 'I can't believe you are going to vaccinate your children, oh my gosh.' We had friends in the church and they would say stuff,' Phares said. 

He's also split on whether the law goes too far since some parents fear medical side effects such as autism.

"It's not going to happen, but if you feel that way, you should not have to have your kid vaccinated," Phares said. 

Richard Foge's son, Westly, has also been vaccinated.

"My son has autism, but it did not come from the vaccinations. We know there have been numerous studies that show vaccines aren't correlated to autism," Foge said.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says that while some parents were reluctant to vaccinate at first, most are coming around.

"The great news is that in San Luis Obispo County, our rates went from 89 percent before the law went into effect to over 95 percent now," Dr. Mulkerin said. 

Five percent are still not vaccinated.

"Most of those, over three percent, are actually in the process of getting vaccinated but don't count yet because they are still getting their vaccines," Mulkerin said. 

Only about a half-percent of students have a medical exemption, she added.

For information on vaccinations and where to get them, click here.

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