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In her 33 years as a school nurse, Robyn Ettl has listened, sometimes quietly, sometimes not, to parents in rural Nevada County explain why their children don’t need vaccinations against contagious and potentially fatal diseases, including polio, diphtheria, measles and pertussis.
Now, with nearly a half a million 5-year-olds and soon-to-be-5-year-olds registering for kindergarten in the fall, school nurses like Ettl are more invested than ever in a delicate task: trying to change the minds of parents intent on opting out of school-entrance immunizations.
Under a state law that took effect Jan. 1, parents are required to consult with a health practitioner – doctor, naturopath or credentialed school nurse – before they’re allowed to obtain a personal-belief exemption from their child’s required immunizations. Prior to the legal change, parents could receive an exemption by stopping by the school secretary’s desk and signing the back of their child’s blue immunization card.
Nowhere is the impact of the law, Assembly Bill 2109, more anticipated than in Nevada County, a