Hundreds Converge on the Capitol to Voice Their Opinions on Vaccination Exemptions Bill

Update: The Senate Health Committee voted 6-2 in favor of Senate Bill 276.

SACRAMENTO -- Hundreds of parents and activists rallied against a new vaccination bill that was discussed at the State Capitol Wednesday.

Lawmakers say Senate Bill 276 cracks down on the number of doctors giving vaccination exemptions. In the wake of an increase in the number of measle cases, many doctors and medical organizations support the bill.

But a growing number of parents oppose it, saying it infringes on their rights.

Christina Mecklenburg claims last year her daughter, Hayden, woke up cross-eyed just five days after receiving the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. She says Hayden's pediatric neural ophthalmologist said she had a post-live virus injury.

"And moving forward she recommended her no longer get anymore live virus vaccinations or else the same thing would happen again," Mecklenburg said.

If SB 276 passes, Hayden’s vaccination exemption would no longer be decided by her doctor.

"Submit a request to the California Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Health would apply evidence-based standards to accept or reject that exemption," said Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.

Pan says the bill is aimed at cracking down on parents seeking doctors to issue what he calls "fake" vaccination exemptions.

"That there are doctors who are out advertising medical exemptions, medical exemptions have actually more than tripled," he said.

During a Senate Health Committee hearing on the bill, a few hundred doctors and pediatricians spoke in support of SB 276.

However, the number of people speaking against the bill was close to a thousand, including parents, grandparents and a few doctors and nurses.

"The vaccines are failing and they’re trying to blame their failure upon the anti-vaxxers, or the people that are not vaccinating," said Del Bigtree.

Bigtree is the CEO of the Informed Consent Action Network, a nonprofit he says has won two lawsuits against government health agencies for not doing proper vaccine safety studies.

"This law is one of the most dangerous laws, I believe, that has ever been presented in America, not just California," he said.

Mecklenburg fears what the bill could mean for Hayden.

"If this bill does pass, then she no longer will be able to go to school and she'll have to get vaccinated in order for her to go to school," she said.

Sen. Pan says some schools have exemption rates as high as 50% and that can create an environment where an outbreak is highly likely.

"But the real problem is is that we have schools that are no longer safe because they have so many medical exemptions they cannot protect the children who attend that school from an outbreak of disease," Pan said.

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