California OKs vaccine mandates for kids

By Cheryl Chumley

California lawmakers are poised to do away with religious exemptions for vaccinations.

Lawmakers in California pushed aside parental protests and passed a measure that would do away with personal belief and religious exemptions and require all publicly schooled children to get vaccinations.

SB277 comes in response to recent measles outbreaks at Disneyland that left dozens ill. The Assembly Health Committee gave the nod to the bill, 12-6 with one abstaining, and it now heads to the full Assembly for a vote. Passage there likely brings the bill into law.

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Under the bill, students with some health issues that prevent them from safely receiving the vaccinations can still attend public school, the Associated Press said. But others must be homeschooled.

“SB277 is about freedom,” said Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat who helped author the bill, AP said. “Freedom from deadly, crippling contagions that are now preventable through the science of vaccination.”

Opponents, however, say the bill goes too far, using what they perceive are faulty and skewed health-emergency reasons.

“I think that really stretches the facts to the point of really almost being sort of a scare tactic,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican representing Fresno, referencing the outcries from measles’ outbreaks for the need for government intervention.

Democratic Sen. Ben Allen, another bill sponsor, said his job was to provide for the health of his constituents.

“At the end of the day,” he said, various media reported, “it’s our role as legislators to look out broadly for the public health needs of the state.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has already indicated he would sign the measure. If so, California would become the third state, behind West Virginia and Mississippi, to do away with personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccinations.

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