It’s inconceivable to me that we are in this mess. Childhood vaccines in the United States have been proven, over the course of decades, to be a safe and effective method for eradicating certain diseases. Some of these diseases – polio, smallpox, whooping cough – are truly horrible illnesses that you wouldn’t wish on your worst frenemy.
And yet thousands of California families are choosing to forego or delay giving their children their shots. In most states, children without the full complement of vaccinations are not allowed to enroll in school. But in California, parents can enroll their unvaccinated children if they file a form stating their “personal belief” against vaccines. This “personal belief exemption” is why thousands of school age children are not fully vaccinated, and why hundreds of Americans have contracted the measles this year after coming into contact with them.
State Senator Richard Pan has authored a bill that would eliminate the personal belief exemption in California, and I have written the below resolution for the San Francisco Democratic Party supporting both this legislation and the notion that personal belief exemptions have got to go.
The meeting at which it will be considered will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, March 25 at the Milton Marks Auditorium, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. Join us!
Resolution of the San Francisco Democratic Party
Calling for the Elimination of the Personal Belief Exemption for Vaccinations
WHEREAS, vaccinations have global, state, and local public health benefits and are an evidence-based and effective method for controlling and even eradicating preventable diseases. State laws mandate that children be immunized before attending school in all states; however, twenty-one states, including California, currently allow personal belief exemptions from those laws. More than a quarter of the schools in California have measles immunization rates that fall below the 92-94% that the Centers for Disease Control claims is necessary to maintain “herd immunity,” and recent outbreaks of the measles in California have highlighted for many Californians the necessity of vaccinating school-age children. Many children and adults are unable to receive vaccinations due to their own compromised immune systems, due to cancer or immune-suppressant medications, and these people’s lives are at risk when they come into contact with these diseases; and
WHEREAS, studies show that vaccination rates are inversely correlated with ease of obtaining an exemption – when, in 2014, California required parents to obtain a doctor’s note to opt out of vaccinating, the overall opt-out rate dipped from 3.15 percent to 2.54 percent, an indication that increasing the stringency of the personal belief exemption requirements positively impacts public health; and
WHEREAS, State Senator Richard Pan, along with co-authors Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, introduced Senate Bill 277, which will require that only children who have been immunized for specific diseases, including measles, be admitted to school in California;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic Party supports the elimination of the personal belief exemption for the vaccination of school-age children in order to benefit public health by reducing and eliminating preventable infectious diseases and to protect those who are medically unable to be vaccinated; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic Party supports Senate Bill 277 repealing the personal belief exemption for vaccines.
Sponsors: Alix Rosenthal, Scott Wiener, Hene Kelly, Leah Pimentel, Kelly Dwyer