The California Assembly has approved a law that will make it impossible for children to obtain vaccine exemptions based on their guardians' religious or personal beliefs. The law is one of the toughest child vaccination laws in the country, the Los Angeles Times reports.
All kids who enter kindergarten will have to be vaccinated
The legislation was approved today in a 46-30 vote. Under this new law, all kids who enter kindergarten will have to be vaccinated for diseases like measles and whooping cough — unless a doctor approves a medically based exemption. Such exemptions may be necessary for children who have certain allergies or immune system deficiencies. An amendment to the law will also allow physician-approved exemptions based on family medical history.
"While I respect the fundamental right to make that decision as a family, we must balance that with the fact that none of us has the right to endanger others," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. Some Assembly members weren't as enthusiastic about the law, however. Mike Gatto, a Democrat, said that the bill would "infringe on the rights of children to attend school."
More than 13,500 kindergartners in the state have obtained waivers based on their parents' personal beliefs. The new law won't require that they get vaccinated just yet, however. They will be able to remain unvaccinated until they reach seventh grade.
More than 13,500 kindergartners in the state have obtained waivers
The law was largely prompted by a recent measles outbreak in Disneyland. Measles is an extremely infectious virus that was declared eliminated from the US in the year 2000. The outbreak caused more than 130 cases in the state.
Now that the law has been approved, Governor Brown will have to sign the bill. He has not yet said whether he would do so, but he's widely expected to sign it. Already, opponents have vowed to challenge the law in court.