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What the Bible Belt taught California about science and vaccination

To the editor: Who’d ever think that California, a veritable bastion of secularism, might profit by emulating the country’s most religious state? (“California's vaccination rates are up. Let's keep it that way,” editorial, April 14)

Though piety runs deep in Mississippi, four decades ago it became the first state to end faith-based exemptions from mandatory schoolchild vaccination laws. Thus it came to post a 99.7% kindergarten vaccination rate — the nation’s highest. By so securing “herd immunity,” the Magnolia State has remained free of measles outbreaks since 1992.

Our state belatedly followed suit, ending personal-belief exemptions in 2015. Since then our kindergartener vaccination rate has vaulted to 95.6%, a bit above the herd immunity threshold. That puts California on track to eliminate measles outbreaks such as the one that started at Disneyland in 2014.

From the Bible Belt to California, behold a key truth: Religious beliefs should not trump public health concerns.

Gary Dolgin, Santa Monica

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