A controversial bill was passed by the California Senate on Thursday, making school vaccination mandatory for a larger number of children. While the legislation piece is aimed at increasing protection against diseases in schools, many of its opponents argue the new law goes against their personal beliefs.
The bill was drafted by Senators Benjamin Allen, of Santa Monica and Richard Pan, of Sacramento, both Democrats. They argued that what prompted them to suggest such a measure is the recent measles outbreak in Disneyland that affected about 136 Californians.
“Vaccines are necessary to protect us. That protection has been eroding,” Pan, who is also a pediatrician, defended his initiative. He argued that science has proven vaccines are effective and come with few drawbacks, and believes the bill will help safeguard the health of school children in the future.
But shortly after it was passed, the law was met with stern opposition outside of the Senate. Technically, what the bill does is limit the ability of parents to refuse vaccination for their children on grounds of personal beliefs. Many exemptions have been abolished, apart from those kids dealing with serious medical conditions, who are allowed to opt out only after their problem is certified by a physician.
Pan explained that children with low immune systems are putting at risk not only their own health, but also the lives of other people if their parents refuse immunization. Republicans, on the other hand, were openly hostile to the initiative, arguing that it limits their right of religious expression.
“What this says is we don’t have a right to practice our faith,” Sen. Joel Anderson feared. He showcased that some people have the right to refuse certain vaccines, such as those derived from the cells of fetuses, for instance.
In the end, a compromise was reached, and the number of required vaccines was capped at 10, easing the concerns of those who feared they are facing an ever-growing list of mandatory vaccines. The bill was passed 25 to 10, as even some of the Republicans put their support behind it.
The law states that school children who have not been vaccinated yet will have to undergo immunization. On the long term, kids will be given the vaccines as soon as they enter kindergarten.
However, the parents of the more than 13,500 Californian children that are currently being exempted from public immunization still have a few options left. If they don’t want the vaccine, either for safety concerns or based on their religious beliefs, they can choose to withdraw their kid from the public education system, as the law does not reach over to private or home schooling.
Opponents of the bill gathered in a protest as soon as the decision was published. Dressed in red shirts, they marched straight to the Capitol, arguing that the SB 277 bill is both unsafe and incompatible with their personal beliefs.
Image Source: Waking Times