Good new for children’s health as Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill this week, which removes the ‘personal belief’ option from the state’s vaccine requirements for children.
With the passing of this bill, California will be transformed from an anti-vaccine hotspot to a state that protects children.
This has come about after a series of events which had been pointing towards this problem, the latest being the outbreak of measles in Disneyland.
In January Disneyland experienced the worst outbreak of measles in the last 20 years, it was spread mostly through non-vaccinated children. Research on this gave light to the fact that, due to anti-vaccination hysteria, which has grown so widespread, more than half of the children at school are not vaccinated.
Due to this anti-vaccine movement, California witnessed the worst whopping cough epidemic in 70 years.
Sen. Richard Pan, who is also a pediatrician, introduced SB 277, after the recent measles outbreak. SB 277 is being introduced to remove personal and religious exemption from vaccines in state.
In February, Senator Pan was a guest on an episode of NPR’s On Point with host Tom Ashbrook, where he discussed this issue and spoke passionately about the need to protect children from diseases.
In order to attend public schools all children need to be vaccinated, under the U.S law. This policy has been a foundation in the national effort to control infections.
However, under California’s current law, parents can opt out of vaccinating their child on grounds of personal reasons and religious beliefs.
The anti-vaccination movement urges parents to use this option and not vaccinate their children.
Without vaccinations, hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. would get sick every year with measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, and other diseases. Thousands would die, and tens of thousands would be permanently injured.
Due to school-based vaccinations, these diseases have been almost eliminated from the U.S.
SB 277 is not that harsh as it still allows parents with genuine concerns about children with specific medical reasons to forgo the vaccine.
The reason behind anti-vaccine movement’s success is that new parents have forgotten the time where diseases were a parent’s constant fear. The advent of vaccines has pretty much set the children disease free.
Now when the anti-vaccine movement came forward with claim that vaccines cause more harm than good, most notoriously that they can/might cause autism, it convinced parents that getting their children vaccinated was not worth the risk.
The Institute of Medicine declared all vaccines completely safe and enormously beneficial.
Anti-vaxxers are continuing to make extreme, and erroneous claims about vaccines. Just two months ago, the noted anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was in California campaigning against SB 277, calling vaccines a “holocaust”.
A group called ‘A Voice for Choice’ announced Thursday, after the vote, that they are “pulling out all the stops” and will try to challenge the new law in court.
People are hopeful that Governor Jerry Brown will sign the bill and California’s children will be, once again, protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.