Panel Votes To End Vaccine Exemption

On Wednesday, lawmakers took the first step toward passage of a bill that would end the personal-belief exemption for childhood immunizations in California.

The Senate Committee on Health on Wednesday voted to approve SB 277 by state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). It would stop California parents from opting out of immunizations for their schoolchildren unless there is a medical or religious reason to refuse vaccination.

Pan, a pediatrician, said the recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough could be prevented if a higher percentage of children were immunized against the diseases.

"I've personally witnessed the suffering caused by vaccine-preventable diseases," Pan said. "All children deserve to be safe at school. The personal belief exemption is now putting other schoolchildren and people in our community in danger."

Wednesday's hearing was at times unruly and emotional, as anti-vaccine advocates sometimes made their cases loudly and with venom. One woman was removed from the hearing room after a loud and emotional outburst, and another person threatened to put a curse on lawmakers who voted for the bill.


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