CALIFORNIA—On Thursday, May 14, the State Senate passed legislation that would mandate vaccination for all schoolchildren.
Sentate Bill 277, introduced by Sen. Richard Pan, of Sacramento and Ben Allen, of Santa Monica passed with a 25-10 vote. The bill was introduced after fear rose from the measles outbreak in Disneyland that infected over 130 people in California.
SB 277 overrides the exemption that allowed parents to opt-out on vaccination based on personal or religious beliefs. Vaccinations must now be admitted before children begin kindergarten. For children who are unvaccinated and currently in school, they must receive their vaccine before reaching the 7th grade. Families who do not wish to vaccinate their children must withdraw them and may home-school instead. The only exemptions that will be made are for children with weakened immune systems.
The MMR vaccine provides immunization from the measles, mumps and rubella. All three were common childhood diseases before the vaccine was created. MMR is given to children around the age of one and then again once they start school around age 4 or 5. Both doses provide 99 percent of protection from measles, which is the most infectious of the two.
Those who support the bill believe it is important in protecting the community from diseases which can easily be prevented. With the recent Disneyland outbreak as a case for the necessity of vaccination, legislators believe public health is a major responsibility for government officials.
Parents who oppose vaccination do so in fear of possible side effects. The vaccine was created in 1988, leading to a rate of near zero percent in western civilizations. In recent years, studies released have linked MMR to an increase in autism and bowel disease in children. Combined with the fear of MMR containing trace amounts of mercury, which can damage our organs and immune system, parents have opted against forcing vaccinations on their children. Some studies show both the autism correlation and mercury poisoning to be false.
In addition to fearing the adverse side effects, opponents believe government does not have the authority to mandate vaccinations. SB 277 is viewed as an attack on personal and religious freedoms. Just as the measles outbreak ended on its own accord, so can future ones, Senator Robert Huff, of Diamond Bar believes.