California has just chalked up its 99th measles case so far this year (about two-thirds of which we have the Disney outbreak to thank for). A pair of state lawmakers have responded by proposing a bill to finally do what we’ve all been asking for: the removal of the “personal belief” exemption option for vaccines required to attend either public or private school in the state.
The proposal, CNN reports, was put forward by State Senators Ben Allen and Dr. Richard Pan (and yes, that is Dr. Pan as in a “my last job was a pediatrician and professor of pediatric health at UC Davis” doctor, not a “I’m an ophthalmologist who made up my own certification organization who somehow thinks I’m qualified to have opinions about vaccines” doctor like Rand Paul). If it succeeds, this bill would make California the 33rd state to throw “personal belief” exemptions in the trash-can where they belong.
Dr. Pan is already a hero of public health in California for working last year to add in the requirement that a parent must speak to a doctor before their child’s personal-belief vaccine exemption is valid. (Presumably this requirement demands an MD and not some guy who had his PhD awarded by a college located in a strip mall between a Little Caesar’s and a nail salon.) But while adding hoops to jump through to attain one of these dangerous exemptions isn’t nothing, it’s also not as good as just keeping potential plague-carrier kids out of school altogether.
We don’t let people have ‘personal exemptions’ to car seat laws for their kids, even if they think the government is secretly adding toxins or mind-control serum into Graco’s manufacturing process to produce a generation of docile citizens. We don’t say “oh, that’s okay then!” if someone shoves their kid into their motorcycle sidecar without a helmet just because they think helmets will pinch their child’s head so much it’ll slow down their brain development. And that’s just where your own kid’s health and safety is concerned! Why is it suddenly all right to throw caution (and decades of solid scientific research) out the window when you want to put your kid and a bunch of others in harm’s measles-tastic way?
For the safety of all kids – those who are too young, too sickly, or too allergic to get their own injections – these California lawmakers are doing the right thing. And while I didn’t have any skin in the game while watching the Super Bowl, the fight to get this law passed is one I’ll be cheering on. Who wants to come over for pizza rolls, beer, and C-SPAN?