The measles outbreak in California has reached 99, as of Wednesday, and the outbreak has prompted two state Senators to draft legislation to close the vaccine exemption loophole.
Pediatrician and Sacramento Senator, Dr Richard Pan and Senator Ben Allen announced Wednesday they will introduce legislation that will repeal the personal belief exemption that currently allows parents to effectively opt their child out of vaccines in our schools.
“As a pediatrician, I’ve been worried about the anti-vaccination trend for a long time,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a State Senator representing Sacramento. “I’ve personally witnessed the suffering caused by these preventable diseases and I am very grateful to the many parents that are now speaking up and letting us know that our current laws don’t protect their kids.”
“The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community. We need to take steps to keep our schools safe and our students healthy,” said Senator Ben Allen.
In addition to the state senators, California’s two US Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter asking California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley and other appropriate state officials to reconsider California’s policy on vaccine exemptions.
“While a small number of children cannot be vaccinated due to an underlying medical condition, we believe there should be no such thing as a philosophical or personal belief exemption, since everyone uses public spaces,” Senators Boxer and Feinstein wrote. “As we have learned in the past month, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children not only put their own family at risk, but they also endanger other families who choose to vaccinate.”
In addition to measles, California reported more than 10,000 pertussis cases in 2014, the most cases in decades. Pertussis, or whooping cough is another vaccine preventable disease.
Under California’s personal belief exemption, a parent may choose to opt their child out of school vaccine requirements that bi-partisan legislative majorities passed to protect students. in many communities across the state, over 10 percent of parents are using California’s personal belief exemption.