A controversial bill that would require vaccinations for all children enrolled in California’s public or private schools, excluding only those with medical exemptions, passed 7-2 in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 277’s passing sets the stage for it to move through the Senate Judiciary Committee before it can advance to the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Appointed just last week to the education committee, State Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, was one of the two lawmakers to oppose the bill, which has caught flak from detractors who believe it trumps a child’s right to an education.
“I think vaccines are a wonderful development of modern medicine and am supportive of their use,” Runner said in a statement. “However, I am also an advocate for parental rights. I believe SB 277 eliminates parents’ rights to choose what is best for their own children, which is why I could not support the bill.”
The bill would eliminate the “personal belief” exemption that allows parents to not vaccinate their children. The repeal does not apply to or affect home-schooled children.
“I monitored testimony on SB 277 last week and met with many interest groups and constituents representing both sides of the issue after my appointment to the committee,” Runner said.
She told the Daily Press on Monday that she was still undecided on the bill, although perhaps leaning toward opposing it, mostly because she believed it teetered on governmental overreach.
She also said the majority of phone calls about SB 277 fielded by her staff leading up to the vote were from constituents voicing opposition to the bill.
Runner represents the Victor Valley in the 21st State Senate District.
Increasing numbers of parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children, citing fears that vaccinations can lead to autism or other problems, even as those concerns have yet to be scientifically verified. The anti-vaccination movement, meanwhile, has been blamed for contagious disease outbreaks in California and elsewhere.
By Shea Johnson for vvdailypress.com