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All 10 kindergartens with the highest rates of vaccine exemptions are in N. California

SF Gate logo SF Gate 7/19/2018 Alyssa Pereira

a large clock tower towering over Michigan Central Station: This shows the historic Michigan Central Station on Monday, June 11, 2018, in Detroit. The owners of the train station announced on Monday that the building has been sold to the Ford Motor Co., for redevelopment. Ford recently began moving about 200 members of its electric and autonomous vehicle business teams into a refurbished former factory near the train station. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

This shows the historic Michigan Central Station on Monday, June 11, 2018, in Detroit. The owners of the train station announced on Monday that the building has been sold to the Ford Motor Co., for redevelopment. Ford recently began moving about 200 members of its electric and autonomous vehicle business teams into a refurbished former factory near the train station. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Across the state, kindergarteners are being vaccinated at the highest rates in years. But that has led to some "pushback" from anti-vaxxers, particularly in Northern California.

Some Californians, the Los Angeles Times finds, are seeking doctors who will issue medical exemptions so they can avoid immunizing their children. The state is one of just three nationwide since 2015 that has passed a law prohibiting parents and guardians from denying immunizing their children on the basis of personal beliefs.

As a result, those who are anti-vaccine may be subverting the law to find other ways forego the practice, despite the fact that there are no legitimate reasons for healthy children to not be vaccinated.

Before California law SB277 took effect in 2016, only 0.2 percent (or less) of California kindergartners obtained a medical exemption each year. Now, as Southern California Public Radio reports, that number has increased threefold. (Again, despite that statistic, the vaccination rate in the state appeared to be at its highest level in 15 years in spring of 2017.)

RELATED: Vaccination rates for California kindergartners continue to rise   

Some doctors issuing these medical exemptions have been known to do so for flimsy reasons, leaving a rash of children vulnerable to serious medical issues. Northern California has 10 kindergartens with the highest rates of medical exemptions. Six of those kindergartens are in the Bay Area, with four of the six in Sonoma County.

At the California kindergarten with the highest medical exemption rate in the state, Sebastopol Independent Charter in Sonoma County, only 36 percent of students have all required vaccines; 42 percent are immunized against mumps, measles, and rubella. Fifty-eight percent of those students, the Times adds, have a medical exemption.

Doctors say just 3 percent of children at most should be exempt, due to serious health complications, such as a child undergoing chemotherapy.

RELATED: Vaccination critic placed on probation by medical board

Ninety-five percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to stave off an outbreak of a very contagious disease, such as one that broke out at Disneyland in 2014.

There is currently no authority in the state that decides on the validity of issued medical exemptions for vaccines.

Other California kindergartens with the highest medical exemption rates include:

58 percent: Sebastopol Independent Charter - Sonoma County

52 percent: Yuba River Charter - Nevada County 

51 percent: Sunridge Charter - Sonoma County 

43 percent: Live Oak Charter - Sonoma County

38 percent: Berkeley Rose School - Alameda County

38 percent: The New Village School - Marin County

37 percent: Coastal Grove Charter - Humboldt County

37 percent: The Waldorf School of Mendocino County - Mendocino County

35 percent: Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm - Sonoma County

33 percent: Santa Cruz Waldorf School - Santa Cruz County

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at apereira@sfchronicle.com or find her on Twitter at @alyspereira.

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