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California Bill Would End Vaccine Exemptions Based on Religious Belief

California State Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced on Wednesday that they will be introducing a bill to end the ability of parents in the Golden State to exempt their children from school vaccinations based on personal beliefs and religion.

“The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community. We need to take steps to keep our schools safe and our students healthy,” Sen. Allen said in a written statement, according to Reuters. The measure would make California the 33rd state to bar parents from opting out of vaccinations based on personal beliefs, Reuters notes.

Their announcement was sparked by a growing number of measles infections, stemming from a person from outside of the United States who started the breakout during a visit to Disneyland in December. Over 100 people have been infected and 94 have officially been diagnosed with the highly-contagious disease in California.

Measles was officially eradicated from the United States in 2000, following years of chid vaccination efforts. Those efforts were partially undone as a result of public campaigns, some backed by Hollywood celebrities, that fostered suspicion of  vaccines by suggesting they could cause mental disorders in children.

A top Los Angeles County health official reportedly announced on Wednesday that the number of reported of measles infections has fallen over the latest two-week period. However, he cautioned that the lag in numbers could still yield several more measles cases, Reuters notes.

Last year marked the highest number of measles outbreaks in the United States in over two decades.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

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