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Mandatory vaccination bill meets opposition in Sacramento

September 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new bipartisan battle over parental rights and health care for kids is heating up in California as proponents of a new bill want to ensure that children are immunized.

In a last-ditch effort to sway Governor Jerry Brown, concerned parents rallied at the Capitol Friday urging him to veto a bill that requires parents to get a medical professional's signature on a form in order to opt out of getting their children vaccinated.

Mothers told stories of how they believe their kids suffered major health problems after getting vaccinated.

"This bill takes away our right to choose what we deem is best for our children," said parent Michelle Gutierrez speaking before the crowd. "I didn't know then what had been done to my child."

The group enlisted the help of actor/comedian Rob Schneider, a Democrat, who joins Republican lawmakers in opposing the bill.

"The state has no authority to restrict or eliminate a parent's right to exempt their child from one or more vaccines or from any medical procedure. This bill oversteps the authority of the state," said Schneider.

"They have instant credibility," said UC Davis Children's Hospital Doctor Dean Blumberg, one of the country's leading experts in pediatric infections. Blumberg says it's tough to compete with a celebrity with a message.

Blumberg says the reality is vaccines are effective, but too many children are not getting them because it's too easy for parents in California to fill out the personal belief exemption forms that allow children to attend school without public vaccination.

"We're immunizing and now we can prevent those deaths, so I think there's a lot of misinformation out there," said Dr. Blumberg.

Blumberg also points out people can still opt out of getting their kids vaccinated. The proposal only requires parents to be counseled on the benefits of shots before filing the exemption.

"Right now, the parents sign a form on their own and what this bill aims to do is the parent signs the form and their health care provider signs the form also," said Blumberg.

The governor has until Sunday at midnight to act on this vaccines bill.


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