POLITICS

California Bill Would Make It Harder For Parents To Say No To Vaccines

02/04/2015 04:58 pm ET | Updated Feb 04, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two California lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday morning that would eliminate parents' ability to opt out of school-mandated vaccines because of personal beliefs.

The bill from state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician, and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), an educator, comes amid the worst measles outbreak in 20 years
with more than 100 cases recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flare-up is anchored in California, where many affluent communities have dangerously low vaccination rates and around 13,000 current kindergarten students are not vaccinated, according to an analysis by the San Jose Mercury News.

“As a pediatrician, I’ve been worried about the anti-vaccination trend for a long time. I’ve personally witnessed the suffering caused by these preventable diseases and I am very grateful to the many parents that are now speaking up and letting us know that our current laws don’t protect their kids," Pan said in a statement.

If the bill is passed as filed, parents may only skip having their children vaccinated in cases where it is prevented by physical or medical conditions.

"Immunization of a person shall be required for admission to a school or institution ... unless the child has a physical condition or medical circumstances that contraindicate vaccination as prescribed in Section 120370," the measure reads.

The bill, which has not yet been assigned a number, will also require schools to notify parents of institutional vaccination rates.

At the press conference announcing the bill, Allen said he hopes California “joins the league of civilized states” in mandating stricter immunization rules, the Sacramento Bee reported.

California is one of 19 states that allow parents to opt their children out of vaccines because of personal beliefs, the Mercury News notes. Pan sponsored a 2012 law that attempted to curb those exemptions by requiring parents seeking them to receive counseling and signatures from health care professionals, but loopholes -- such as receiving counseling from alternative medicine practitioners -- have stifled the law’s intentions.

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