April 29, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health Vaccination
Sacramento – Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen) passed overwhelmingly out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The California Medical Association (CMA), American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA), California Immunization Coalition (CIC), Vaccinate California and Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) recently launched the I Heart Immunity Campaign supporting the bill.
“Our thanks to the Senate Judiciary Committee along with Senators Pan and Allen for their commitment to this very important issue,” said Luther F. Cobb, M.D., CMA president. “Vaccines are a proven way to keep children healthy and communities safe and SB 277 will help to ensure more kids get care to prevent them from getting once eradicated diseases.”
SB 277 will remove the Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) option from the school and child care enrollment requirements. It will also require schools to publically provide information about their immunization rates. Removing the PBE will help protect the most vulnerable, including babies too young to be immunized and people who are immunocompromised, from the risks associated with contracting these diseases. It will also protect the community at large from increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.
“It is ridiculous and infuriating that in 2015 I have to worry that my son might get measles or whooping cough,” said Leah Russin, a mother from Palo Alto who is advocating for passage of SB 277 to protect her 18-month old son from vaccine-preventable diseases. “These diseases should not come back and parents who don’t accept medical science should not be allowed put my child at risk of potentially fatal diseases.”
In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that measles had been eradicated in the United States. However, since December 2014, California has had 133 confirmed cases of measles across 13 counties. Twenty percent of those cases have required hospitalization. Efforts to contain the outbreak have resulted in mandatory quarantines and the redirection of public health resources to investigations into exposure.
“A family who does not vaccinate would still have school options for their children,” said Kris Calvin AAPC CA CEO. “The school options in SB 277 seek to balance the desire to ensure educational options for children whose parents avoid vaccination while balancing the state’s real interest in protecting schools and the community from communicable disease.”
In recent weeks the Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and the Los Angeles Daily News have joined local governments and community organizations across the state in urging support for the bill.
A full list of endorsements can be found at vaccinatecalifornia.org