A new bill in California that would make vaccinations mandatory for children throughout the state passed in the Senate on Thursday.
The bill gives parents whose children are enrolled in California schools the ability to opt out of vaccinations for their kids for medical reasons only, the Huffington Post reports. Under the law, parents would not be allowed to cite religious or personal beliefs as reasons not to vaccinate their children.
“Vaccinations are necessary to protect us,” Democratic Sen. Richard Pan said, “but that protection has been eroding. We need to do more to protect our communities.”
The controversial bill, if enacted, would make California the third state to enforce strict vaccine laws – alongside Mississippi and West Virginia. Many parents throughout the state have objected to the bill, staging protests outside of lawmakers’ offices statewide and expressing their opposition to making vaccines mandatory.
The bill will now advance to the state Assembly. If it passes that chamber, the final decision on the bill will come down to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to take a public stance for or against mandatory vaccination. A representative for Brown, however, said that the governor “believes that vaccines are profoundly important and a major health benefit,” and a bill on the matter would be “closely considered.”
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