Recently in class we have been talking about vaccinations and if they are worth the risk. Last year in Disneyland, 111 people were infected by the measles virus when it spread throughout the theme park. Most of these people were not vaccinated, even though the measles vaccine has been available since 1968. Since then, Californians have been pushing to ban vaccination opt- out due to personal and religious beliefs.
Dr. Richard Pan, a California State Senator (D), was named a hero by TIME Magazine for his work to provide a safe environment for school children. Pan’s bill, which was prompted by the measles outbreak at Disneyland, was signed into law under the name SB 277. This bill requires children to get all of their vaccinations, in order to create a safer learning environment for those kids who cannot be vaccinated for medical purposes.
As of June 30, 2015, California passed SB 277 into law, and it will take affect on July 1, 2016. With this law, California tykes are required to have their vaccination record in full when they enter kindergarten and seventh grade. If it isn’t up to date- they will be banned from all public and private schools. People who chose not to vaccinate their child have the option of homeschooling their child or doing independent studies at the public schools. Now, “personal belief” is not a good enough reason for children to not be vaccinated, children must have a specific medical condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated.
California is the state with the most measles cases so far in 2015 and it is also one of the 17 states that still has personal belief laws, but it is the first state to get rid of opting out of vaccinations for religious beliefs. Personal belief laws has taken a toll on California in the past, when 10 children died of whooping cough. A study done on this topic showed that many cases of whooping cough came from those children who were not vaccinated due to “personal belief.” Other children were left to suffer because they were exempt from being vaccinated either because of medical reasons. The case broke in the first place because not enough children were vaccinated to create herd immunity, which occurs when enough of the population is vaccinated so the rest of the non-vaccinated population is safe. (measles is so highly contagious that 90-95% of the population must be vaccinated in order to generate immunity, while whooping cough requires about 94% ).
Although these numbers are relatively high, Dr. Pan says that children must be safe in school, and among the Californian school population, there should be close to 100% immunity.
Opponents of SB277, including an anti-SB277 organization that took the URL of sb277.org, say that this law violates children’s constitutional right to receive an education.
Another complaint is that this law violates religious freedoms. According to this website, MMR vaccines contain the cells of aborted babies, and those against abortion should therefore be against the MMR vaccine. Other religious protests include: people who think that God made their bodies to be able to protect them naturally and that vaccines do not help with their health, and that unless it is the religious belief of a person that God punishes non-vaccinators, it is a step over religious boundaries to claim that every child must be vaccinated.
This site went on to harp on the cliche that vaccines kill and injure an uncountable number of people a year, and that a government that is powerful enough to force people to get vaccinations that could harm them has too much control.
Most of these complaints are easily arguable. Vaccines obviously help the health of people, since a vaccine is what eradicated polio. Secondly, there is no merit to whether your religious belief allows you to get vaccinated or not. If religious belief is what the government based all of its laws on, I’m sure many people would have the belief that paying your taxes got you punished by God. And as for vaccines harming people, as we went over in class, you are much more likely to get killed in a car accident than you are from getting a vaccine.
California’s new law is something that the rest of America should adopt. For the greater good of the rest of the children in contact with those who are not vaccinated, as well as for the greater good of the community as a whole, vaccinations can help immensely with children remaining healthy.