A split California Assembly approved a bill that would require nearly all public school kids to get basic vaccines Thursday.
The bill passed on a bipartisan 46 to 30 vote and, if signed by the governor, would give California one of the strictest vaccine requirements, by eliminating the “personal belief” exemption used by anti-vaccine parents.
The bill came in the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, which sickened at least 40 visitors and staff members, and a massive study that found no link between vaccines and autism.
The bill was fought with vocal opposition for months. Anti-vaccine activists donned red and protested at the Capitol and called their state legislators. At the same time, a 30,000-signature petition supporting the bill was delivered to the governor by a seven-year-old leukemia survivor, who reportedly wanted to go to school but was fearful of contagion.
The Assembly also was split on the measure. Assemblywoman Kristin Olson reportedly referred to the bill in a recent radio interview as “an emotional reaction” to a “one-time incident.”
“What we need to make sure in Sacramento is we’re making decisions based on logic and sound data,” she reportedly said.
“We do not have the right, nor should we have the power, to take away a parent’s right to choose,” added Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), during Thursday’s floor debate.
But the pro-vaccine vote won out.
“Do we wait until we have a full-fledged crisis to protect the most vulnerable?” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), in presenting the bill Thursday.
The approval comes on the heels of a massive April study that found no link between the common vaccines and autism.
The anti-vaccine movement began in 1998 with the publication of a paper in The Lancet, claiming a dozen children had been harmed by the MMR vaccine. The paper was retracted by the medical journal in 2010, but opponents of vaccinations have continued to be vocal. Since then, anti-vaccine parents in some parts of the U.S. have opted against inoculations against ailments once considered nearly eradicated. In some parts of the U.S., measles and other diseases have been contracted in outbreaks with increasing frequency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery