SACRAMENTO – On Thursday, the California state Senate took one step closer to making it mandatory that all children receive preventable-disease immunizations before beginning or continuing in California public and private schools.
The bill, SB 277, co-authored by Santa Monica Democrat and State Senator, Ben Allen, would require all children to receive immunizations before entering or continuing in school, despite their religious or personal beliefs.
Allen told, the Los Angeles Times that “the legislation is about increasing immunization rates so that no-one will have to suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Reuters reports that in recent years vaccination rates in California have plummeted as some parents declined vaccinating their children because of the belief that vaccinating is linked to autism. However, by not vaccinating, the same caring parents possibly leave their children, and other children with low immunities, susceptible to polio and measles.
Earlier this year, a part-time coach at Santa Monica High School tested positive for the measles virus and was subsequently put on a leave of absence. The coach may have contracted the disease after coming into contact with someone who was at Disneyland, in Anaheim, where the first outbreak of measles was reported on January 14.
Proponents of the SB 227 say the bill ignores parental right, religious freedoms and medically informed consent.
If parents do not vaccinate their children and SB 277 is passed, parents still have the opportunity to home-school their children.
Republican Sen. from San Juan Capistrano, Patricia C. Bates, told the Mercury News that she is concerned that if SB 277 passes, it may negatively affect the “opportunities for equal education” as the number of low income families who home-school may increase.
Before SB 277 can become law, the California State Assembly must approve it.
Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net and Sura Nualpradid.