By next year, those working in California daycare centers will be required to have vaccinations for measles and whooping cough.
The bill recently passed in the Senate 34 to 3 and the Assembly 60 to 16.
The law was then approved by Gov. Jerry Brown following the measles outbreak at Disneyland. It was California’s worst outbreak in 24 years, infecting 130 residents and two dozen out-of-state visitors.
Getting measles isn’t just a risk for children, but it is dangerous to any age group. A February report from the Los Angeles Times stated that more people than ever are not being vaccinated even as adults. Overall, measles vaccinations have dropped in this generation, seeing a steep decline over the last 12 years.
The Disneyland outbreak had many childcare organizations scrambling to draw up regulations requiring vaccines for adults.
A nationwide chain with 1,500 locations began requiring the vaccines after a Chicago daycare center saw eight infants infected with measles. They now require the vaccine for anyone working with infants under 15 months old.
For the first time in its history, the University of California will also require proof of four vaccines, including measles, in addition to an already required vaccine for Hepatitis B.
The author of the California bill, Sen. Tony Mendoza, says the vaccines will save lives.
“We must do everything in our power to protect California’s children,” he said in a statement. “If this new law can prevent the loss of even one child due to a communicable disease, then it will be considered a success. Because one child’s death is one too many, especially when it may be preventable.”
And Mendoza is probably right. According to recent statistics, more than 2.5 million lives are saved around the world thanks to vaccinations.
The new law will require any employee or volunteer to receive the vaccines by September 1, 2016. To be exempt from this requirement, employees can provide a doctor’s note with a legitimate reasoning for not obtaining the vaccines.
Another requirement under the law will require workers to get the flu shot every season. There is also an option for employees to decline via written statement. Flu shots can already be obtained numerous place around the country, as the flu season begins next month.
The governor already signed a different law regarding vaccines earlier this year. It was the toughest in the nation, barring children without vaccinations from attending daycare and school.
In recent years, children could still attend without vaccines if they were able to cite a religious exemption, but in the 2016 year, vaccines must be completed for the start of school. The only exemption to these rules now are medical reasons. Parents will be given the options of private school or independent study if they still do not want their child vaccinated.
Many of the issues seen with those not vaccinated come back to unfounded concern over what vaccines do to the body, said health officials. Dr. Gil Chavez, a state epidemiologist, said that immunization rates in some schools are at less than half, creating an environment for the virus to spread quickly.
Efforts have been made to overturn this law, but they have failed. Former Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County attempted a petition but only obtained 233,758 signatures out of the 365,660 signatures needed to move forward.