California: Tell Your State Senator to End Personal Belief Exemptions From Vaccination Requirements
April 2, 2015
In 2000, the United States announced a historic victory for public health: that the measles virus was effectively eliminated within U.S. borders. But fifteen years later, measles is back with a vengeance, in an outbreak infecting hundreds of people — nearly two-thirds of whom are Californians. Measles infection rates, along with those of whooping cough (pertussis), are at their highest level in decades.
Why? Because not enough Americans are getting vaccinated.
They’re not getting vaccinated due to religious dogmas, disproven conspiracy theories, and other deep-seated views that reject accepted science. These mistaken beliefs lead to negligent acts that harm others, and they’re too often protected by law: 19 states, including California, allow parents to exempt their children from vaccination requirements if they deem the vaccination “contrary to their beliefs.”
That’s why California state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach) have co-authored an important new bill (Senate Bill 277) that would end vaccination exemptions for children based on their parents’ beliefs — religious or otherwise. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) strongly supports this measure and urges you to tell your state senator to do the same.
Here’s why this measure is so critical for public health: Aside from protecting individual children, vaccines work through herd immunity,” whereby those who can’t receive a vaccine — because they’re too young, too old, sick, or pregnant — and those few people for whom the vaccine doesn’t work, are shielded from a disease by everyone around them who can be vaccinated getting vaccinated. As the recent past has proven, when vaccination rates are high enough the measles vaccine (MMR) is nearly 100 percent effective at halting the disease. Yet California has one of the lowest measles vaccination rates in the United States, which explains the latest eruption and spread of measles from there.
CFI urges you to contact your state senator right now and demand they support Senate Bill 277, stand up for sound science, and protect all Californians!