California Moves Closer to Mandatory Vaccine Law

On Tuesday, California legislators approved a bill that would mandate vaccinations for children in the state. The California Assembly Health Committee approved bill SB277, the controversial bill introduced following a measles outbreak at Disneyland last year.

SB277 is intended to boost vaccination rates after a measles outbreak at Disneyland that sickened more than 100 in the U.S. and Mexico. It has prompted the most contentious legislative debate of the year with thousands of opponents taking to social media and legislative hearings to protest the legislation.

The bill was sponsored by Democrat Senators Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica. The legislation "would only allow children with serious health problems to opt out of school-mandated vaccinations. School-age children who remain unvaccinated would need to be home-schooled. It would apply to elementary schools, secondary schools and day care centers."

Personal belief exceptions to vaccinations have risen every year between 2010 and 2014, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The purpose of SB277 is to "help the state reach what immunologists call 'herd immunity,' the percentage at which enough people are vaccinated to protect the whole community."

Right now, California vaccine levels barely fall into that category.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herd immunity for measles is between 92 and 94 percent. In 2014, 92.6 percent of California kindergarteners received the measles vaccine, but a number of suburban pockets outside major cities have vaccination rates far lower.

 The bill still has to pass the full Assembly.