Assembly Committee OKs Vaccine Bill Despite Protests

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SACRAMENTO (AP)–

California lawmakers have approved a bill aimed at raising school vaccination rates after five hours of highly emotional debate.

The Assembly Health Committee voted 12-6 in favor of the bill, which came in response to a measles outbreak at Disneyland in December that infected more than 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico.

The proposal advances to a house-wide floor vote after previously passing the Senate.

SB277 by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica aims to increase school immunization rates by eliminating the personal belief exemption. Unvaccinated children would have to be home-schooled.

Hundreds of opponents rallied ahead of the hearing and waited hours to testify against it, arguing it would eliminate their right to choose.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has not taken a position.