Controversial Vaccine Bill Passes, Drawing Ire From Some Parents

SACRAMENTO -- The battle over a controversial vaccine bill continued Thursday at the State Capitol.

Senate Bill 276 would tighten vaccine exemptions, which author Sen. Richard Pan hopes will cut down on the number of school children skipping required immunizations.

"This bill is basically forcing me to have to choose between his education and his life," Amy Mitten-Smith, a parent from San Diego, said.

Mitten-Smith was one of the hundreds of parents from across the state who visited the State Capitol to speak out against the bill. She claims her son was injured by previous vaccines.

"He's exempt from all vaccines because the next shot could kill him," she said.

But on the other side, dozens of doctors, nurses and teachers spoke out in favor of the bill, which cleared the Senate earlier this year.

Sen. Pan testified before the Assembly Health Committee on Thursday, often met with protests from an audience of parents against vaccinations.

Pan explains the bill’s goal is to crack down on so-called bad doctors selling vaccine exemptions.

"SB 276 is about keeping our state and communities safe from preventable diseases," he said.

Earlier this week, Pan recently changed some of the language in the bill to gain support from Governor Gavin Newsom.

But opponents say even if this bill does get signed into law, they’ll still fight it.

"Of course we’re aware that it most likely will pass, but that just means that we’ll go to our next level of strategy and litigation will begin," opponent Jamie Lynn Juarez said.

The bill allows for the state's Department of Public Health to review exemptions only if they're at a school with immunization rates of less than 95%. The health department can also reject an exemption if it comes from a doctor who has granted more than five medical exemptions in one year.

"My son actually went into anaphylactic shock after his 12-month vaccine," parent Allison Serrao said.

But the bill may not increase vaccination rates. Several parents told FOX40 if it passes they’ll pull their kids from school before they vaccinate them.

“If it does go into effect, I still will not vaccine my children," Serrao said. "I will do my duty as a parent and I will protect them."

The bill cleared the Assembly Health Committee and is headed next to the Appropriations Committee before the Assembly floor for a full vote. If it passes there, Gov. Newsom says he’ll sign it into law.

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