New vaccine law sparks debate throughout California

CALIFORNIA -- In California today, there were protests in several cities against a new state law that requires nearly all schoolchildren to be vaccinated. The Governor signed it Tuesday, but the debate doesn't end there.

At a state senate hearing seven-year-old Rhett Krawitt became a poster boy for supporters of California's strict new vaccination law. As a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy he could not be vaccinated. His parents worried unvaccinated children at his school put Rhett's health at risk.

en0703vaccine21.jpg
At a state senate hearing seven-year-old Rhett Krawitt became a poster boy for supporters of California's strict new vaccination law.
CBS News

"Vaccines save lives," Rhett said at the hearing.

Rhett's mother Jodi knows the fight is not over. The other side hasn't given up yet.

"I wouldn't expect them to honestly," Jodi said. "I mean they're very passionate about it."

Christina Hildebrand runs Voice for Choice which is spending $350,000 to fight the law.

"The government should not be able to say, you must vaccinate your children," she said. "Because it is a medical treatment that comes with risk."

The law requires almost every child attending public or private schools in California to be vaccinated. The measles outbreak that started at Disneyland last December led to growing demands that California tighten laws that allowed many parents to refuse to vaccinate school age children.

Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician, sponsored the legislation.

"The people of California said, we need to act," he said. "We don't want to see preventable diseases returning to our communities. This is not acceptable."

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.