California Governor Jerry Brown signaled an openness to the announcement of a bill co-sponsored by two state senators that would eliminate vaccine exemptions based on “personal” and religious belief on Wednesday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Brown’s spokesman, Evan Westrup, said the governor “believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit, and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered.” State Senators Ben Allen and Richard Pan co-authored the bill. Sen. Pan is a pediatrician by trade and Sen. Allen said his father had polio as a child. “We should not wait for more children to sicken or die before we act,” Pan told the Times.
Brown’s new-found flexibility surrounding this issue stems from the resurfacing of measles in the California, nearly two decades after it was completely eradicated from America in 2000. The Golden State has had over 100 cases of measles, stemming from an individual who was visiting Disneyland from outside of the United States in late December.
In 2012, Brown had reportedly been criticized for exempting parents with religious objections from meeting with a medical professional to explain the dangers associated with non-vaccination. That year, he had reserved religious exemptions to state vaccination. He appears to have changed his tune.
The Times points to state statistics which show that there are currently 13,592 kindergarten students in California who have waivers due to their parents’ personal beliefs; 2,764 of those were based on religious beliefs.
California has long felt the brunt of criticism from health experts for making vaccination exemptions easy, which has translated into low measles and general vaccination rates in preschools, kindergartens and child-care centers. Despite medical research, which has refuted links between vaccination and autism,” anti-vaxxers” have used Hollywood to spread their message.
Adelle Nazarian is on Twitter @AdelleNaz