April 06, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Vaccination
The California Medical Association (CMA), American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA), California Immunization Coalition (CIC), Vaccinate California and Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) have joined forces to launch the “I Heart Immunity” campaign in an ongoing effort to promote the importance of vaccines and Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen).
The bill would remove the personal belief exemption (PBE) option from the school and child care enrollment requirements. It would 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.
“Immunizations have been a cornerstone of medical advancements in this century, eliminating the fear of death and permanent disability from diseases that once threatened communities across the world,” said Luther Cobb, M.D., CMA president. “The ‘I Heart Immunity’ campaign brings awareness to the legislation and education around the effort to keep communities safe.”
AB 2109 (Pan), which passed in 2012, sought to ensure that families were not using the PBE solely out of convenience or based on misinformation about vaccine efficacy or safety. Though that legislation resulted last year in the first decrease in PBE use in a decade, the measles outbreak earlier this year underscored the need to do more.
“The recent measles outbreak has been a strong reminder that these diseases are still with us and can re-emerge anytime, anywhere – especially in a community where vaccine rates are low,” said Catherine Flores-Martin, CIC executive director. “Parents should be able to send their children to day care and school without exposing them to vaccine-preventable diseases because of the decisions made by other parents.”
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.
“As a mother of young children and leading advocate for Vaccinate California, I am very concerned about the risk my son faces each day at school as outbreaks of preventable diseases continue to rise,” said Hannah Henry.
“The safety and health of our children is essential,” said Kris Calvin, AAPCA CEO. “SB 277 will make sure that kids have the best chances to stave off preventable diseases.”
Vaccines have undergone significant rigorous scientific review and continue to have ongoing safety tracking. That rigorous analysis indisputably shows that vaccines are effective and have very low risks. Recent endorsements of SB 277 include the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the California State Parent Teacher Association and the California School Nurses Association.