Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show

SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA

In 2016, California implemented one of the strictest immunization laws in the country, requiring that all children be up to date on their vaccinations to attend school unless a doctor says otherwise.

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The law, however, does not apply to children who are home-schooled, a loophole that parents seem to be increasingly exploiting. Over the past three years, the number of kindergartners who were home-schooled and did not have their shots quadrupled, according to a Times analysis of state data.

It is unclear whether parents are opting for home-schooling solely because they want to avoid vaccines, or if they are choosing to home-school for other reasons and also happen to not want to vaccinate their children.

Regardless, there are now thousands of home-schooled children all over the state who do not have their shots — a number that keeps rising every year.

And though most of their schooling may take place at home, many are part of programs that meet several times a week with other students. If one contracted a disease such as measles, they could still spread it at the park, or the grocery store, or anywhere they come into contact with other people, said Dr. James Cherry, a UCLA expert on pediatric infectious diseases.

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