What do you think? Is this bill state encroachment on personal freedoms, or is this a matter of public safety?
Nurse practitioner Susan Brown prepares a flu vaccination for a customer. Senate Bill 277 passed the Senate Education Committee on a 7-2 vote and now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo: AP)
Forced vaccination is one of those hot button issues that often derails even the most polite of conversations, and can turn friends or even family into raging enemies.
Even people who in many other cases believe in freedom of choice, when it comes to vaccination, some raise contentions, suggesting that refusing to vaccinate one’s children infringes on the rights of those who might be infected by viruses that they might catch.
Are they right? Or does everyone retain the right to determine what they put in their body, or what they do not put into their bodies, even if that might mean they are more susceptible to diseases?
Whatever you believe the answer to that question is, California has made it clear what the State government believes. Legislation that would require vaccinations for nearly all California schoolchildren was revived Wednesday. In its second attempt, it was revived, passing a Senate committee that most thought would reject the measure.
Senate Bill 277 passed the Senate Education Committee on a 7-2 vote and now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As the bill currently stands, there are no exemptions for personal beliefs or religious requirements that would preclude some or all vaccinations. Such requirements are not limited to religions that oppose vaccination itself, but could restrict the use of vaccines grown on fetal or swine cultures. If people with such religious objections are forced or compelled to get vaccinations, is their free exercise of religion being infringed upon?
“There’s a lot of work we still have to do,” Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, commented, following the hearing.
Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat whose district houses many non-vaccinating families, voted in favor of the bill, saying “I supported SB 277 because I strongly believe in the validity and importance of vaccinations. My concern has always been to ensure that all children have access to educational opportunities. I believe that the current bill, as amended, does a good job of balancing the state’s constitutional requirement to provide access to public education with the public health benefits of vaccinations.”
But Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said that the bill could make it impossible for poorer families who opt out of vaccinations. “I just still have a concern that this will not go far enough to help a two-income family who cannot home-school their child or a single working parent,” she said.
Opponents of SB 277, such as the California Coalition for Health Choice denounced the advancement of the bill as “outright rigging the results of a vote.”
Critics like Joni Martin, who has vaccinated her two children, believes “this is a terrible bill. It’s a ridiculous bill that needs to not pass. I’m going to come any time I need to come to listen to what they say, and I’m going to continue to work on getting the message out about all the reasons the bill is not justified.”