California Schoolchildren Vaccination Bill Moves Forward
West Coast anti-vaxxers beware! After an initial voting delay, a California Senate committee overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that will require schoolchildren in the state to be vaccinated.
According to the Herald, the Senate Education Committee voted 7-2 on the bill proposed by Senator Richard Pan, a Democratic pediatrician from Sacramento. It’s now being passed along to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing next week that will surely be part of a drawn out legislative process.
Lawmakers had reportedly delayed a vote on the bill last week after some on the Education Committee worried it would potentially deprive unvaccinated children of an adequate education.
Pan’s proposal is one of many national vaccination initiatives that were born out of the Disneyland measles outbreak, which sickened more than 100 people in both the U.S. and Mexico. Presently, parents who are opposed to vaccinating their children can abstain by obtaining exemptions for “personal-belief and religious” reasons. Pan’s bill would prevent children with these kind of exemptions from being able to attend public or private schools. Only children with health problems would be allowed to obtain exemptive medical waivers.
Democratic Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica helped Pan craft amendments to the bill which expand the home schooling and independent study programs available to children who are not vaccinated and therefore cannot go to public or private schools. Allen told the Sacramento Bee,
While this bill won’t reach everyone, it will increase everyone’s safety against vaccine-preventable diseases. We think we’ve struck a fair balance here that provides more options to parents who are concerned about not vaccinating.
The bill’s amendments would allow unvaccinated children to still be able to get an education through “private home schools that cover multiple families or through independent study programs that are overseen by school districts and given access to public school curricula.” According to the Bee, in the bill’s former version only those serving a single family or household had qualified.
Opponents of the vaccine bill are already vowing to continue their fight against the bill. Jean Keese, a spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Health Choice said,
We will continue to show our strength, and we will continue to educate lawmakers and the public about why this is a bad bill.
These individuals who oppose mandatory vaccinations, sometimes nicknamed “anti-vaxxers,” often have the belief that modern vaccination methods cause a wide range of health problems, despite evidence to this effect being debunked by both medical and scientific experts and dubbed a pseudoscience.
If approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, this bill would provide peace of mind to concerned parents in the state who are fearful of another large-scale outbreak like Disney’s potentially affecting their children. However official approval of the bill will likely be unsuccessful in squashing all anti-vaccination efforts.