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Strict Vaccine Requirements Could Prevent Outbreaks

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The number of measles cases in California continues to rise in what has become the state’s worst outbreak in more than a decade.

California is one of 17 states that offer vaccine exemptions based on personal beliefs. All but two states offer religious exemptions.

Indiana only allows vaccine exemptions in cases where religious beliefs are involved. And last year, 700 children in Indiana got religious exemptions — less than 1 percent of the number of children entering kindergarten.

In California, 3 percent of students were exempted from vaccination.

Ross Silverman, professor at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health, says the risk of widespread outbreak in Indiana is low but students receiving religious exemption are not spread evenly throughout the state.

"They tend to be asked for in clustered communities where the children are exempted from vaccinations," he says. "So that creates these pockets of extreme vulnerability."

Indiana requires the immunization records for children 18 and under to be reported to a centralized database of vaccination records in an effort to identify these vulnerable populations.

"Vaccination is the best way to prevent exposure and potential contraction of vaccine-preventable illnesses," Silverman says.

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