The state of California has made a move that will surely send the anti-vaccination crowd into an uncontrollable rage, but the rest of the state can breathe easy — both literally and figuratively. On Thursday, the California State Assembly passed SB 277, which requires all children in day care or school to be vaccinated.
Most importantly, the bill eliminates all personal-belief and religious exemptions, leaving things they way they should be: All children must be vaccinated, unless there is a legitimate medical issue. The bill passed with 46 “yeas” and 30 “noes,” and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it into law.
Recently, California’s latest measles outbreak was declared over. In April, officials at the California Department of Public Health said no new cases had been reported in 42 days.
Slate reports that:
Influenced in part by the measles outbreak at Disneyland last December (which spread to more than 130 California residents, and sparked widespread condemnation of parents who do not vaccinate their children), the bill—proposed by Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan, a pediatrician—generated heated debate and extensive campaigning. In advance of today’s vote, some anti-vaccine advocates used social media to encourage harassment of lawmakers who support the bill, and Pan reported receiving threats. And while the ACLU of California remains neutral on the bill, its legislative director questioned if it would run counter to the right to public education.
“There are large numbers of parents who are very concerned about the fact that we’re going to have mandated medical treatment against a fundamental right to education,” said Christina Hildebrand, founder of A Voice For Choice, which unsuccessfully lobbied against the bill. “Parental freedom is being taken away by this, because the fear of contagion is trumping it.”
According to the KPCC, California will be the 32nd state to ban the personal-belief exemption, and only the third to eliminate religious exemptions.
While anti-vaccine parents will likely be upset at this news, the legislation is completely in line with the will of the public.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “Most California adults (67%) and public school parents (65%) say unvaccinated children should not attend public school. A large majority (87%) say vaccines are at least somewhat safe.”
Almost assuredly, numerous nonsensical challenges will be put forth by the anti-vaccine crowd, much of which believes strongly in a discredited 1998 study that falsely linked autism and vaccines, but this is a huge win for those who do not feel children should be walking disease incubators.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.