Friday, 6 February 2015

Measles Outbreak Sparks Bid To Strengthen Calif. Vaccine Law


WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

By Jenny Gold

State lawmakers in California introduced legislation Wednesday that would require children to be fully vaccinated before going to school, a response to a measles outbreak that started in Southern California and has reached 107 cases in 14 states.

California is one of 19 states that allows parents to enroll their children in school unvaccinated through a “personal belief exemption” to public health laws. The outbreak of measles that began in December in Anaheim’s Disneyland amusement park has spread more quickly in communities where many parents claim the exemption.

State Sens. Dr. Richard Pan and Ben Allen have proposed eliminating the personal belief exemption altogether in California.

“Every year that goes by we are adding to the number of unvaccinated people and so that’s putting everyone at greater risk,” said Pan, who is also a pediatrician. “We shouldn’t have to wait until someone sickens and dies to act.”

The exemption isn’t new — it’s been around since the 1960s. But the number of parents taking the exemption went way up in the past decade. In some schools in California, more than half of children have an exemption.

If their law passes, all of those children would be required to get fully vaccinated in order to go to school. Pan says the most parents in the state would support that.

“People are speaking out, and they are calling my office and saying, ‘Please help us by getting children immunized, so my children can be safe,'” he said.

Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California-Hastings in San Francisco,  supports adding further restrictions to personal belief exemptions, but she worries that the bill may go too far. She says a small minority of parents, who remain anti-vaccine despite the scientific evidence that inoculations are safe and life-preserving, may just try to skirt the new law.

“They’ll fake vaccination by finding a doctor willing to sign something saying the child is vaccinated when he isn’t,” said Reiss.

If a school doesn’t know who isn’t vaccinated, they don’t know who to send home in case there’s an outbreak.

source : Measles Outbreak Sparks Bid To Strengthen Calif. Vaccine Law

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