Following a measles outbreak that sickened more than 100 individuals in the U.S. and Mexico, lawmakers in California introduced a bill that would impose one of the country's strictest vaccination rules.
With Gov. Jerry Brown signing into law Senate Bill 277, California now joins Mississippi and West Virginia as the states without personal belief exemption when it comes to vaccination albeit medical exemption will be given to children with particular health issues.
The law makes it mandatory for kids to get immunized against diseases such as whooping cough and measles so they can attend private or public school. The children whose parents opt not to have them vaccinated will not be given medical exemption but they need to be homeschool. Those who currently claim for a personal-belief exemption will also be required to be fully vaccinated by kindergarten and seventh grade.
In response and in protest to the new mandatory vaccine law, about 200 parents and children marched their way across the Golden Gate Bridge shortly after 12 noon on Friday wearing bright red and demanding the repeal of the newly signed SB 277. Several cities across California hold similar rallies as well.
"All of the nation of Islam are sincerely concerned about any law that imposes needles into the arms of men, women and children," said Minister Keith Muhammad, who spoke at the event "Autism in black children increased with the MMR."
In 1998, a study which suggested an association between vaccine and autism was published in the journal Lancet but this study was later retracted and the medical license of the leading author was revoked. Nonetheless, many parents still cite concerns over risks of autism as among the reasons they do not want their children to be vaccinated.
Although the overall vaccination rate of California seems sufficient to protect the community from diseases, suburban areas in the state are seeing a drop in immunization rates with some schools reporting of near 50 percent immunization rate. The so-called herd immunity for measles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is between 92 and 94 percent.
The proponents of the bill, Democratic Sens. Ben Allen of Santa Monica and Richard Pan of Sacramento said that the Disneyland measles outbreak that prompted the idea is only a hint of what could happen if the immunity of the community continues to decline.
ZaldyImg | Flickr