February 23, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Licensing & Regulatory Issues Public Health Vaccination
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and California State Senator Richard Pan, M.D., toured an Emeryville Head Start program last week to illustrate the reasons they have introduced vaccination bills at the national and state levels.
Senator Boxer introduced the Head Start on Vaccinations Act with Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto. That bill would protect children in Head Start programs from preventable diseases by requiring that all children in Head Start programs nationwide be fully vaccinated unless they have been exempted for medical reasons. Boxer chose the Emeryville Head Start program to advertise the bill she introduced because of the program's 100 percent immunization rate, she said.
Senator Dr. Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician, has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would end the “personal belief” exemption to mandated school vaccines. Dr. Pan says he is committed to making communities around California safer by reducing the number of unvaccinated school children.
“Senator Boxer’s recently introduced legislation to help ensure all children enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs nationwide are vaccinated is a step in the right direction for public health,” said Luther Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association (CMA) president. “The Head Start on Early Vaccination Act, along with state legislation to reduce dangerous outbreaks of deadly diseases, brings awareness and opportunity for education around the importance and benefit of immunization.”
The Disneyland measles outbreak has so far affected 113 people in California and 143 nationwide, according to the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, there were 644 cases of measles nationwide, a huge spike from the 200 or so reported in 2013. Officials are blaming the spike partly on parents who are afraid the vaccinations cause autism and other dangerous side effects, and partly on parents who just don't know the importance of childhood immunizations.