California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Panel Approves Bill on Health Care Worker Flu Vaccination

Late Thursday, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee approved a bill (SB 1318), by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), that would require all California health care workers to either receive an influenza vaccination or wear a mask while in patient areas during the flu season, the Woodland Daily Democrat reports.

The legislation now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Bill Details

The bill aims to help prevent the spread of influenza among patients at high risk of developing serious flu complications.

Wolk said, "According to CDC, vaccination is especially important for health care personnel who regularly come in contact with these vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk of flu complications and death." She added that the bill "is an essential step toward preventing the outbreak of influenza in California's health care facilities."

Sponsors of the legislation include the Health Officers Association of California, the California Medical Association and the California Association of Nurse Practitioners (Woodland Daily Democrat, 4/28).

Assembly Panel Considers Immunization Exemption Bill

Meanwhile, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations soon will consider a bill (AB 2109), by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Natomas), that would require parents seeking a personal belief exemption from a state requirement that children be immunized to submit a signed document from a health care worker, noting that the parent has been informed of the risks associated with forgoing immunizations.

Opinion Pieces Weigh In on Immunization Bills

In a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece, Lucy Crain -- a physician who has practiced and taught pediatrics at UC-San Francisco -- writes, "Informed decisions are important because an individual's decision not to have a child immunized may affect the health of other children and adults." She argues the AB 2109 "is an important bill," adding that it protects "a parent's choice to exempt his or her child from immunizations but ensures that the choice is informed" (Crain, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/30).

Meanwhile, Assembly member Dan Logue (R-Linda) in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece responds to a recent Sacramento Bee column by Dan Morain that Logue says "called me out" on immunization legislation.

Logue writes, "The reason I voted against AB 2109 is because I do not believe parents should be required to be 'informed' by a physician about vaccines before they can exempt their child." He adds that although there are risks associated with not immunizing children, the legislation "simply goes too far."

Logue writes that because Wolk's bill to require health care workers to either receive an influenza vaccination or wear a mask "has not yet come before the Assembly Health Committee ... I will not get into the politics surrounding that issue" (Logue, Sacramento Bee, 4/28).

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