On May 14, California’s Senate passed Bill 277, that would end a parent’s right to a vaccine exemption for their child due to religious or philosophical reasons, if the bill makes it through the State Assembly. The bill would make California the third state to abolish personal belief exemptions (which include religious or philosophical reasons); following Mississippi and West Virginia; thus requiring all school-age children to receive the vaccines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The law will require children to be fully vaccinated by seventh grade, allowing families to opt out only for medical reasons, such as allergies to vaccines or other known acquired immune disorders.
The bill, written by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), was prompted by the December measles “outbreak” in Orange County, Ca. Senator Pan believes, “Vaccines are necessary to protect us. That protection has been eroding.” Still, there have been 196 cases of measles across the country this year in 20 states and D.C. and about 70% can be traced to the California emergence, but since March there have been no new cases.
Opposition to this bill exists in California, and to the concept of eradicating personal belief exemptions nation wide. State Senator Bob Huff (R-District 29) voiced his opposition to the bill, not because he does not believe vaccines are effective, all members of his family are vaccinated, but as he puts it, “It comes down to what to we as a society, as a legislature, trade when we mandate that somebody has to do this to protect somebody else.” There is no measles epidemic, and so there is no urgent reason that people must give up personal liberties and be forced to act against religious and philosophical beliefs.