Vac­ci­na­tion bill heads to Brown

The mea­sure is one of the tough­est in the na­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Me­lanie Ma­son me­lanie.ma­son@latimes.com Twit­ter: @mel­ma­son Times staff writer Kurt Chir­bas con­trib­uted to this re­port.

SACRA­MENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown must now de­cide whether to sign into law a bill that would re­quire manda­tory vac­ci­na­tions for nearly all Cal­i­for­nia school­child­ren.

The mea­sure, spawned by an out­break of measles at Dis­ney­land that ul­ti­mately in­fected more than 150 peo­ple, cleared its f inal leg­isla­tive hur­dle Mon­day in the state Se­nate. Brown has not said pub­licly whether he would sign it.

The mea­sure — one of the tough­est vac­ci­na­tion bills in the na­tion — would re­quire chil­dren en­rolling in school or day care to be im­mu­nized against dis­eases in­clud­ing measles and whoop­ing cough.

Par­ents would no longer be able to cite per­sonal or re­li­gious be­liefs to de­cline the vac­ci­na­tions, although chil­dren with cer­tain med­i­cal prob­lems, such as im­mune sys­tem de­fi­cien­cies, would be ex­empt.

Those who de­cline the vac­ci­na­tions would have to en­roll their chil­dren in a home- based pri­vate school or public in­de­pen­dent study pro­gram based off cam­pus.

The bill was one of the most con­tentious taken up by the Leg­is­la­ture this year, at­tract­ing large, vo­cal crowds of par­ents dur­ing a se­ries of leg­isla­tive hear­ings on the mea­sure.

Those in fa­vor of the pro­posal ar­gued that it was needed to boost statewide im­mu­niza­tion rates.

“The science re­mains un­equiv­o­cal that vac­cines are safe and vac­cines save lives,” said Sen. Richard Pan ( DSacra­mento), a pe­di­a­tri­cian and an au­thor of the bill.

Some Repub­li­can sen­a­tors said the bill was gov­ern­ment over­reach. Sen. Joel An­der­son ( R- Alpine) called it “a di­rect at­tack on our lib­erty and a vi­o­la­tion of our parental rights.”

Af­ter the vote, op­po­nents ral­ly­ing at the Capi­tol turned their at­ten­tion to Brown, call­ing for him to veto the mea­sure and vow­ing to hold a con­stant vigil un­til he acts.

“I am ask­ing you to pro­tect his health,” said par­tic­i­pant Ju­lianna Pearce, re­fer­ring to her son, Nathan, who she said suf­fered a se­vere re­ac­tion to a vac­cine at 23 months old. “If there is a risk, there must be a choice.”

At a news con­fer­ence held by the bill’s au­thors, Han­nah Henry, a sup­porter, said she saw public health ben­e­fits in higher im­mu­niza­tion rates.

“The re­turn of pre­ventable in­fec­tious dis­ease to our schools and to our com­mu­ni­ties is too fright­en­ing to bear,” said Henry, a Napa mother who co- founded the ad­vo­cacy group Vac­ci­nate Cal­i­for­nia.

Brown has un­til July 13 to act on the mea­sure. Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the gover­nor, said Brown “be­lieves that vac­ci­na­tions are pro­foundly im­por­tant and a ma­jor public health ben­e­fit and this bill will be closely con­sid­ered.”

The state Se­nate, which f irst ap­proved the mea­sure in May, voted 24 to 14 Mon­day in fa­vor of mi­nor amend­ments to the leg­is­la­tion, SB 277 by Pan and Demo­crat Ben­jamin Allen of Santa Mon­ica.

It passed the Assem­bly last week.

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