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Mandatory Vaccine Bill Moves Forward In Assembly

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

People rally in opposition to a bill requiring mandatory vaccinations for California school children on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

A bill mandating vaccines for most California school children has been approved by an Assembly committee after hours of impassioned debate. The health committee voted Tuesday to accept the measure, which eliminates the personal belief exemption for children whose parents don’t want them to be immunized.

The committee made several amendments to the bill, including giving physicians more leeway in granting medical exemptions. Democratic Senator Ben Allen is an author of the bill.

Democratic Senator Ben Allen is an author of the bill.

"One of the things that we’ve talked about over and over again is how important it is that there be a strong and robust medical exemption," he says. "So that anybody who has a legitimate medical concern, genetic predisposition, some sort of immunological problem, they can go to a doctor anywhere in the state and get an exemption from that doctor."

Both sides argued the bill is about personal freedom. Democratic Senator Richard Pan authored the bill.

"SB 277 is about freedom, freedom from deadly, crippling contagions that are now preventable through the science of vaccination," Pan says.

Pediatrician Jay Gordon opposes the measure. He says it’s not about whether vaccines are good or bad.

"It’s an excellent product," he says. "We should give people as much information as they want and then let the parents participate in this discussion. We should not force nor coerce them."

The bill now moves to the full Assembly.