California’s Assembly on Thursday approved a hotly contested bill requiring that nearly all public schoolchildren be vaccinated, clearing one of its last major legislative obstacles before the measure heads to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill aims to increase immunization rates after a measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in December sickened over 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico. Experts blame the outbreak a small but growing number of parents who have chosen not to have their children vaccinated, due largely to what infectious-disease experts call mistaken fears about childhood vaccines. The outbreak ultimately infected 131 Californians (no deaths were reported), and left the state in need of stricter regulations.
The bill would give California one of the nation’s strictest vaccine laws by striking the state’s personal belief exemption. Only children with serious health issues would be allowed to opt out of mandatory vaccine schedules. Unvaccinated children would need to be homeschooled.