Legislation to do away with the “personal belief” exemption to required vaccinations for school children has been introduced by a pair of State Senators in the wake of the measles outbreak.
“We should not wait for more children to sicken or die before we act,” said Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.
Pan, a pediatrician, says the incidents of measles is trending upward. Currently about 2.5 percent of kindergarten children have opted out of vaccinations, up from 77 percent in year 2000.
Flanked by parents who fear their children are in danger of contracting an infectious disease, Pan said the public’s health is being compromised by overblown concerns about allergic reactions and infections caused by vaccinations.
Among them is Citrus Heights mom Tina Carter, whose daughter Nikki is about to enter school. She needed a liver transplant when she was an infant and a compromised immune system means she can’t get a measles vaccination.
She says unvaccinated children pose a threat to Nikki.
“If she catches something like that she wouldn’t even have a fighting chance,” Carter said. “It’s very real for me. She could die.”
For bill co-author Sen. Ben Allen, D-Redondo Beach, it’s not fear of infectious diseases, it’s fact.
“In my own school district, the baseball coach has already been diagnosed with measles. We had to shut down an infant center in Santa Monica because of a measles outbreak, one of the local synagogues recently had a major whooping cough outbreak,” said Allen.
The eliminaiton of the personal belief exemption also mans parents who have religious objections would also need their kids vaccinated if they go to public or private school.
Pan said he is willing to have discussions on the religious objection issue as the bill moves through the legislature.