Bill Ending ‘Personal Belief’ Vaccine Exemptions Advances in California Senate

Allen Pan (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

After a brief delay and second attempt, Senate Bill 277 (SB 277), which would require children in California to be vaccinated if they wish to enter a school setting, passed in the Golden State’s Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The bill would end vaccine exemptions based on personal or religious belief. Only exemptions accompanied by a medical note would be granted.

Senators Ben Allen and Dr. Richard Pan, both Democrats, passed their bill through the committee with 7 “yay” and 2 “no” votes. The bill is now headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee to embark on a long and winding legislative process before it receives the final stamp of approval.

The bill faced opposition from families who feared it would exclude their children from school. However, Sens Pan and Allen adjusted the bill to allow families that choose to homeschool their unvaccinated children to do so more easily by eliminating a clause that requires all the children in a particular homeschool setting to be part of the same family.

“Obviously we don’t our kids to be ostracized from school and we want them to get a strong education,” Sen. Allen told Breitbart News. “It’s very clear that getting everyone vaccinated is a very good thing and the types of concerns that are raised by the anti-vax communication are just unfounded,” he said.

Dr. Howard J. Fullman, who is a Chief of Staff at Kaiser Permanente told Breitbart News: “There’s no serious evidence of side effects such as autism. And when someone gets vaccinated they’re benefitting both themselves and those around them.” He said the benefits of getting vaccinated vastly outweigh the risks for both individuals and society at large.

While acknowledging that some students have health conditions that make vaccination a risk, he said: “Students who don’t get vaccinated are at risk for measles which is a very serious infection and can cause death. And they are also harming those around them for making it more likely that an epidemic can occur.”

Sen. Allen conveyed that individuals from his father’s generation often had at least one “horror story about people who have not been vaccinated. “It’s hard for people from our generation or younger to comprehend the horrors out there where diseases like polio used to strike people down.” He emphasized the importance of looking at history in order to prevent future incidents from repeating themselves. “This is a cross-cutting issue,” Allen said.

Senators Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) voted against SB 277. Runner issued a press release explaining her decision for opposing the bill.

I think vaccines are a wonderful development of modern medicine and am supportive of their use. However, I am also an advocate for parental rights. I believe SB 277 eliminates parents’ rights to choose what is best for their own children, which is why I could not support the bill.

The bill was born in large part from a measles outbreak that had its origin in California’s Disneyland and made its way across the United States and beyond, infecting more than 100 people.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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