California Lawmakers Announce Bill Tightening Vaccination Rules
Two California lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation Wednesday that aims to increase the number of vaccinated children in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 2/3).
California law requires children entering kindergarten to obtain vaccinations for several diseases.
However, parents can obtain exemptions to those requirements if immunizations are against their personal beliefs by providing documentation proving that health care practitioners have informed them about vaccines and diseases before they can opt out of vaccinating their children. Parents also can obtain medical or temporary exemptions (California Healthline, 2/3).
In 2014, California granted:
- 13,500 personal belief exemptions; and
- 2,700 religious belief exemptions.
Details of Legislation
During a press conference on Wednesday, state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) are expected to introduce a bill designed to increase immunization rates. The lawmakers declined to comment on the specifics of the bill before the event.
However, a source familiar with the planned legislation said it likely would:
- Restrict parents' ability to receive personal belief exemptions; and
- Require parents to be notified of vaccination rates at their kids' schools.
According to those familiar with the bill, it likely would continue to allow parents to seek religious exemptions to vaccination rules (Los Angeles Times, 2/3).
Editorial Argues for Stronger Vaccination Rules
A San Francisco Chronicle editorial argues that "California leaders need to draft legislation to tighten the state's vaccination requirements for children entering school."
The editorial notes that "12 to 18 people every 10 to 14 days" will be infected with measles without vaccinations, compared with less than one person during the same time period "[i]n a country with full vaccination."
However, the editorial notes several challenges to implementing such requirements, including the sensitivity of "[t]elling parents what they must do with their children" and the "threat that what should be ... an apolitical issue will turn into a political lightning rod" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).
UC System Considering New Vaccination Requirements
In related news, the University of California is considering requiring incoming students to receive more vaccinations before beginning classes, CBS SF Bay Area reports.
UC students already are required to have the hepatitis B vaccination. The new rules, which would take effect in 2017 if adopted, also would require students to be vaccinated for:
- Chicken pox;
- Rubella; and
According to a UC spokesperson, the change was proposed before the recent measles outbreak in California (CBS SF Bay Area, 2/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.