SACRAMENTO - The California Legislature on Monday passed a bill requiring mandatory vaccinations for children, moving to end exemptions from state immunization laws based on religious or other personal beliefs.
The bill will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.
The measure, which would be one of the toughest vaccination laws in the nation, would require more children who enter school, or day care, to be vaccinated against diseases including measles and whooping cough.
The bill was introduced because of concern about low vaccination rates in some communities and an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people. Parents for and against feel very strongly about the issue: "I think its not fair and it one more way for parents rights to be removed," said a father of two who chose not to vaccinate his kids for religious reasons.
"I think that’s ( SB277) great because you don’t want your kids to get sick nor get other kids sick if yours are," said a mother of a 6 month old who was vaccinated last week.
Those with medical conditions such as allergies and immune-system deficiencies, confirmed by a physician, would be excused from immunization. And parents could still decline to vaccinate children who attend private home-based schools or public independent studies off campus.
Brian Stenzler, is the president of the Calif Chiropractic Assoc., an outspoken opponent of the measure, he says the bill is unconstitutional because it takes away informed consent. "The authors of the bill says you have a choice or consent because you can decline, but then your kids can't go to school. Public school is a right under the constitution so it becomes coercion and not consent."
The state Senate approved the bill earlier this month, but must concur with minor amendments to the legislation approved by the state Assembly on Thursday. The Senate voted in favor of the bill Monday afternoon. The Governor has 30 days to veto.