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California Senate Passes Controversial Vaccine Bill

Pauline Bartolone/Capital Public Radio
 

Pauline Bartolone/Capital Public Radio

The controversial California bill that would require all school children to be vaccinated unless there's a medical reason has passed the State Senate on a bi-partisan 25-10 vote.

The measure has drawn crowds of opponents to the Capitol and ignited contentious debate in committee hearings over the past few weeks.

The bill's authors say a broad coalition of conservatives and progressives have been working together in support of the bill, which they say will help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

After today's Senate passage, one of the bill's authors, Senator Richard Pan, was surrounded by supportive parents.

"The Senate, in a bi-partisan manner, has sent a strong message. 'Vaccines save lives, and every child, every child has a right to a safe school," says Pan.

Seventy seven year-old Ramona Garcia was in a wheelchair at the Capitol showing her support. She's a polio survivor.

"We don't want to have children get preventable diseases. When we have the ability to prevent them, we should use that science, " Garcia said.

There were no demonstrations at the Capitol against the bill today, opponents said there wasn't time.

Republican lawmakers took up some of their concerns on the Senate floor. They wanted a religious exemption, resources for parents who home school unvaccinated kids, and a requirement that doctors inform parents of vaccine ingredients.

"In each one of these amendments, what we've said is, should that vaccination cost me my religious faith. Do you have a right to steal my soul without my knowledge?,” says Republican Senator Joel Anderson.

The bill moves next to the Assembly.