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California Legislators Introduce Bill Abolishing Parents' Immunization Exemptions

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) -- Two California lawmakers who want to make sure as many schoolkids as possible get immunized announced a new bill in Sacramento on Wednesday that would no longer allow parents to exempt their children from vaccines simply because it goes against their personal beliefs.

Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Democratic state senator from Sacramento joined state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) introducing the bill.

Pan said measles was eradicated 15 years ago but the current outbreak that began at Disneyland shows the state's 92 percent vaccination rate is too low.

"In too many schools, not enough children are immunized to prevent an outbreak. Our current laws aren't strong enough to protect them or us," he said.

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Allen said that children in public and private shcools with physical conditions that preclude vaccinations would be allowed to skip their shots, under the bill.

The senators said they open to allowing a religious exemption, but the personal belief waiver that about 2.5 percent of California parents get now, would be repealed.

"In my own school district the baseball coach has already been diagnosed with measles, we had to shut down an infant center in Santa Monica because of a measles outbreak. These issues are affecting my constituents," Allen said.

Leah Russen, of Palo Alto brought her baby to the senators' announcement.

"We worry about whether to take him to amusement parks with lots of other kids, we worry about taking him to our pediatrician's office in unvaccinated kids are present," she said.

In a statement, Governor Brown told KCBS that "vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit" and he'll consider this bill closely. He notes the personal exemption rate has FALLEN since he made it harder to get one, two years ago.

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