Yesterday, the Health Committee of the California State Assembly approved Senate Bill 277, which would bring an end to the state’s practice of allowing parents to claim a personal exemption to the state’s mandatory childhood vaccinations. Should the full Assembly and governor approve the bill, the only exemptions that would be allowed would require a doctor to document that vaccination poses a health risk.
Currently, state law requires any school, nursery, day care, etc.—either public or private—to have documentation of vaccinations against common childhood diseases before admitting any student. But the law also allows a personal belief exemption, wherein parents can simply claim that vaccination is against their convictions. While the state’s immunization levels as a whole remain high, parents who ask for personal exemptions often cluster in the same communities, which has fostered outbreaks of several preventable diseases.
This situation has prompted state legislators to act to eliminate these exemptions. But the move has drawn some angry opposition. According to the Sacramento Bee, many parents have shown up for hearings about the bill to claim that vaccines cause various harms to children. And opposition to the bill within the legislature has mostly focused on it as an issue of personal freedom.
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