Vaccine Legislation

3 Things To Know About California's Proposed Mandatory Vaccination Law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — California would give state public health officials instead of local doctors the power to decide which children can skip vaccinations before attending school under legislation proposed Tuesday to counter what advocates call bogus exemptions.

The measure would also let state and county health officials revoke medical exemptions granted by doctors if they are found to be fraudulent or contradict federal immunization standards.

Under the proposed law, doctors would send the state health department the reason they are recommending the exemption and would have to certify that they examined the patient.

Here are three things to know about the proposed vaccination law:

1) Why the sense of urgency over mandatory vaccinations?

Measles cases are on the rise nationwide and in California.

In 2016, 86 measles cases were reported in the U.S.; but in 2017, that number jumped to 120. In 2018, the number of measles cases more than tripled to 372, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far this year, 314 cases have been reported across the country.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal, according to Dr. Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento.

“The measles, we know, used to kill hundreds of thousands of children every year,” Blumberg said.

Just a few years ago, doctors were optimistic that they were making a dent against measles.

Now, there is growing concern among many in the medical community about unvaccinated children.

“Such high unvaccinated rates put kids and communities at risk,” said Dr. Arnold Leff, the public health officer for Santa Cruz County. “As a health officer, I am very concerned about this."

“Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to mankind,” Blumberg stated. “And in fact, when it gets into a susceptible population, 90 percent of people end up being affected with it."

2) How effective is the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella?

“Two doses of the measles vaccine provide 97 percent protection against measles,” Blumberg said. “So, it’s one of our most effective vaccines."

Blumberg said children should be vaccinated for the first time between 12 and 15 months and then get a second dose between ages 4 and 6.

Some parents expressed concern about possible links to autism and other negative effects.

“I am very concerned for my own grandson because he currently has different physical conditions,” said Mary Kretzmann, a Nevada City grandmother. “If you look at the tests, they would make him more prone to vaccine injury.”

“There is no scientific evidence that there is any link between measles vaccine and autism,” Blumberg said. “There is no connection between the two.”

3) How are parents reacting to potentially losing medical exemptions for vaccinations?

Many parents support efforts to increase vaccination rates. At the State Capitol, one parent warned opponents of mandatory vaccinations, “We’re coming after your doctors that are giving out these fake exemptions.”

Some parents said the government has no right to insist on vaccinations for their kids.

“It’s not for the state to decide what is in the best interests of our children,” said Denise Aguilar of Stockton.

“We are the parents, we raise our children,” Aguilar added. “We know what’s best for them. Government should never tell us what to do with our bodies.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Sacramento father Jeffrey Perrine.

“The most important thing about this is we’re not anti-vaccination,” Perrine said. “It’s about freedom of choice. We as parents want the choice to take care of our children how we feel best fits.”

“It’s about freedom of choice. We as parents want the choice to take care of our children how we feel best fits.”

For Rebecca Giannini, a Davis mother who brought her two children to the Capitol, the issue is one of medical privacy.

“My medical history and my kids’ history is private,” Giannini said. “That’s why we have HIPAA."

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that protects medical information.

"So it’s not up to anybody else to decide to know about what’s in my family medical history," Giannini added.

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