Cross Your Fingers, Vaccine Exemption Bill Could Get Fast-Tracked To A Vote This Week

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Large Outbreak Of Measles Reported In CaliforniaSB 277, California’s proposal to remove religious and personal belief vaccine exemptions for public schools, has been bouncing around the state government for months now. But thanks to a recent amendment, this bill has been injected with a new shot at life — one that could see it being voted on in the full State Senate as soon as this week.

One of the less controversial components of the bill was its plan to have school districts report to parents with data on student immunization rates. It’s a piece of information with limited utility as far as a parent is concerned: there’s not much to do once you see that number other than move your child to a different school, or possibly put on a “I <3 VACCINES” sandwich board and parade up and down your neighbors’ sidewalk. The other issue with this planned reporting is that a program to collect and report data costs money.

Of course, state budget funds, much like water, aren’t in great supply in California at the moment. Any bill with financial implications has to pass through the Senate’s appropriations committee — another step between this bill and its potential future as a law. With the amendment removing the parental-reporting component, this bill now comes at the magic price of free, putting it in the fast track for a vote.

Opponents of the bill are accusing its authors of “cheating the system” and trying to quash public debate on the subject by putting a rush job on the political process. I’m not sure how amending a bill qualifies as cheating (apparently there’s been a lot of cheating in the history of our political process — I mean, even more cheating than we already knew was out there), but I am sure that there has already been a very, very tiresome amount of public debate on this topic. As long as I’m here, by the way: no, vaccines do not cause autism; yes, your kid’s vaccination status affects others; and yes, you have the right to access a free public education — but not at the cost of endangering the lives of others.

State Senators Richard Pan and Ben Allen say that they are concerned with getting the bill passed with its “core intact”: the demolition of the religious and personal belief exemptions. They’re willing to shed the bonus of the parental reporting requirement if it means their bill is harder, better, faster, stronger, and that much more likely to get voted on sometime soon. If it means they’re going to be accused of political ‘cheating’ and underhandedness, that’s fine — their end goal is still to protect Californian children.

(Image: Justin Sullivan / News / Getty)