Lawmakers Split on Vaccination Requirements Ahead of Vote
Several lawmakers on the California Senate Health Committee are undecided about whether they will support or oppose a bill (SB 277) that would tighten the state's childhood vaccination requirements, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 4/5).
California law currently allows parents to opt out of school vaccine requirements for by first consulting with a licensed health care provider or by claiming religious objections.
Details of SB 277
SB 277 -- by state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach) -- would end all personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements (California Healthline, 3/9).
In addition, the bill would:
- Only allow children who have received vaccinations for certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to be admitted to schools in the state; and
- Require schools to inform parents of immunization rates.
The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons (San Jose Mercury News, 4/5). If the bill is enacted, California would become the third state to only allow exemptions in cases when they are medically necessary (California Healthline, 3/9).
Lawmakers Split Over Bill Before Vote
On Wednesday, the California Senate Health Committee will consider SB 277.
According to an informal Mercury News poll of committee members, lawmakers are split on whether exemptions should be permitted, with some in favor of SB 277, one opposed and several others undecided.
According to the poll, those in favor of or leaning toward voting yes on the bill include state Sens.:
- Bill Monning (D-Carmel);
- Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles);
- Lois Wolk (D-Davis); and
Those who are undecided include state Sens.:
- Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chair of the committee;
- Isadore Hall (D-South Bay);
- Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), vice chair of the committee; and
- Richard Roth (D-Riverside).
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said he plans to vote against the measure.
Pan said he is confident "that when my colleagues are presented with the science and the truth about why we need to stop preventable diseases and protect every student's right to a safe school, SB 277 will pass."
However, several groups have voiced opposition to the bill.
For example, California Chiropractic Association President Brian Stenzler in a letter sent to the committee last month said, "We ought not let a handful of measles cases at Disneyland turn into a full-scale assault on civil and human rights in America," referring to the California measles outbreak that started at a Disneyland theme park last year.
Still, Dorit Reiss -- a professor and vaccine law expert at UC-Hastings College of the Law -- said that courts have established precedence for provisions under the bill that would allow the state to compel individuals to receive vaccinations and require kids to be immunized before attending school (San Jose Mercury News, 4/5).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.