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Jessica Biel joins vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy to oppose bill – but says she's not against vaccinations

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Some members of the California Senate welcomed Jessica Biel on Wednesday to discuss a controversial bill that would tighten medical exemptions for vaccinations. Biel joined anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who lobbied against the bill.

Kennedy posted several photos of the actress on Instagram, writing: "Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House."

The bill in question, SB 276, would require California's State Department of Public Health to develop a more streamlined medical exemption document for vaccinations. Currently, parents in the state who do not want to get their children vaccinated can submit a written statement by a licensed physician explaining why the immunization is not safe for their child.

The bill, introduced by State Senator Richard Pan, proposes that by 2021, licensed physicians and surgeons statewide must use a standardized medical exemption request form, and that this form becomes the only one accepted by the state government.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Biel explained why she personally opposes the bill. "I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians," she wrote. 

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This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB277 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!

A post shared by Jessica Biel (@jessicabiel) on

Biel said her concern with SB 276 is in regards to medical exemptions. "My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family's ability to care for their child in this state," she wrote, explaining this is why she spoke to legislators to argue against the bill. 

Her fellow lobbyist, Kennedy, has argued that vaccines, specifically those containing the element thimerosal, may cause autism, a view unsupported by scientific evidence and dismissed as a conspiracy theory by experts. 

Pan, who is a pediatrician as well as a state legislator, pushed back against Biel on Twitter. "Promoting misinformation that discourages vaccination defines being an anti-vaxxer," Pan wrote. In another tweet, he pleaded, "Will the 1% please stop trying to spread preventable diseases to the 99%?"

Public health officials say misinformation about vaccines and parents opting out of vaccinating their kids for non-medical reasons are enabling the resurgence of measles, which was previously considered eliminated in the United States. The U.S. is currently experiencing the biggest measles outbreak in more than 25 years, with over 1,000 cases confirmed in 28 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

N.Y. health officials blame misinformation campaign for measles outbreak

Kennedy, the son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, has argued that external factors, such as vaccines, were causing not only autism, but autoimmune illnesses, allergies and other conditions in children.

While it has been proven that vaccinations do not cause autism, many so-called "anti-vaxxers" are against immunizations, believing these false claims. Other anti-vaxxers argue they have religious objections to vaccines.

It is unclear what Biel said while lobbying with Kennedy at California's capital on Wednesday. In 2015, it was rumored that the actress, who has one son with singer Justin Timberlake, was not planning on vaccinating her child. However, Biel has not explicitly called herself an "anti-vaxxer."

Along with Kennedy, Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey and State Senator Brian Jones also posted photos with Biel during her time at the capital. In a tweet, Jones welcomed both Biel and Kennedy, thanking them "for taking the time to chat about your opposition to #SB276." He also included the hashtag #NoOnSB276.

CBS News reached out to representatives for Biel and Kennedy and is awaiting response.