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What other states can learn from California's vaccine laws

New research suggests that stricter vaccine laws help defend children against vaccine-preventable diseases.

In the midst of several outbreaks of dangerous, preventable diseases, California has tightened its immunization laws in recent years, Science News reported. A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, analyzed the effect of those laws on school-aged children in the state, concluding that stricter laws help reduce the risk of dangerous disease outbreaks.

Scientists examined data on 9 million children from 2000 to 2017, analyzing the changes in vaccination rates from before and after California's new laws were implemented (between 2014 and 2016). The laws were found to reduce the likelihood of kids who weren't vaccinated or were behind on their vaccines encountering other such kids, making it 22 percent less likely for them to infect each other.

Insulating unvaccinated people from each other bolsters "herd immunity," an effect that helps communities better resist contagious diseases. That means "the risk of a disease outbreak also decreased" with the new laws, said Cassandra Pingali, one of the study's authors.

"The study illustrates that stricter immunization laws improve vaccination rates," said Jana Shaw, a pediatric infectious disease specialist not involved with the study. Other states can "adopt laws that would protect children" by following California's example, she said.

Read more at Science News.