State Sen. Pan Defends Bill Eliminating Vaccination Exemptions

AP Photo/Toby Talbot
AP Photo/Toby Talbot

Overwhelming opposition from parents appears to have prevented a California Senate bill from advancing out of committee Wednesday. The bill would strip parents of their right to exempt their children from one or more doses of vaccinations.

Co-author Senator Richard Pan stands behind it, and it appears to be inspired by a measles outbreak that began in Disneyland last December.

Currently a small 2.54% of California Kindergarteners are exempted from one or more doses of vaccine under a “personal belief” waiver. The majority of these waivers cite a “health care practitioner.”

A much greater 6.9% of un- or under-vaccinated children in California Kindergartens are enrolled as “conditional entrants.” Parents of these children have expressed intent to achieve the vaccination requirements during the school year, but have not yet done so, or a child is not yet old enough for certain school required vaccinations.

Dr. Richard Pan, a California State Senator and Pediatrician, told KCRA News that he knows of many parents supportive of the bill. He told the interviewer that the Education committee is considering changes to the bill that include the homeschooling alternative to vaccination.

Pan notes in the KCRA interview that vaccination rates of populations in certain communities have gotten too low and are the reason such a spread of measles occurred in the Disneyland outbreak. A study released earlier this year demonstrated higher levels of un- or under-vaccination in graduate level-educated and low income communities in the Bay area and Sonoma County.

Pan asserted that this bill is about keeping children safe at school; however, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) thresholds for “herd immunity” in regards to measles vaccination, California is already safely in compliance. California Kindergarteners are already vaccinated to 92.6%, while the CDC threshold is only 90%, and that 2014-15 school year vaccination level is a parent-choice-driven uptick from the prior school year.

While hot debate over the “personal belief” waiver pervasively surrounds SB 277 and similar vaccination bills, little has been said regarding “conditional entrants.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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