Saturday , May 25 2024

Gov. Brown Signs In Strict New Vaccine Law

California now has one of the strictest vaccinations laws in the country. Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a controversial bill into
law that requires parents to vaccinate their children before attending public or private school and day care.

Those who aren’t vaccinated will have to be homeschooled. Only those with serious health issues will be exempt.

There is both intense support and opposition to this law.

Many parents feel it takes away the parent’s choice. But the push for vaccinations gained momentum after last December when a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened almost 150 people.

At Valley Children’s Hospital, 4-year old Matilda is being treated for a brain tumor.

Battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy has left her with no ability to fight off other illnesses.

So for parents such as Matilda’s, California’s new law requiring them to vaccinate their children is good news.

"We could protect our household as much as we can. We can clean it, sanitize it, but if your child brings it into mine, and to expose one of my child–that’s going to bring it to the other child," said Claudio Pacheco, Matilda’s father.

Children with weak or no immune systems, like Matilda, are especially vulnerable. Catching an illness could set them back in their recovery or do even worse.

"At least prolonged hospital stays, requiring to be in the ICU for extended times, and death is a significant risk," said Dr. J. Daniel Ozeran, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Valley Children’s Hospital, who is treating Matilda.

Dr. Ozeran supports the new law.

Every medical procedure, big or small, carries risks; but Dr. Ozeran said the benefits of vaccines have been proven.

"Because of vaccination has probably caused the greatest improvement in health care throughout history so far, requiring it is a good idea," Dr. Ozeran said.

But the law also comes with strong opposition. Many parents feel it takes away their freedom to choose what’s best for their child.

Candice Shumaker said she suffered a severe reaction to vaccinations at 15-months old that left her with epilepsy until she was 19 when she was able to have brain surgery.

"I am seizure free, but I have to remain on epileptic medication because there’s still seizure activity in the brain, and this was all brought on by the vaccinations," Shumaker said.

There are exceptions to the law if a child’s physician doesn’t recommend it for medical reasons.

Dr. Ozeran said, as a doctor who treats children with cancer, he’s especially concerned about children like Matilda, whose life could rely on others to be vaccinated.

"It would really be a shame to lose one of them because of a preventable infection," Dr. Ozeran said. 

The law goes into effect for the beginning of the 2016 school year.

Now, lawmakers are working on a bill that would also require day care workers to be vaccinated.

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