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Marin County Supes Vote 4-1 in Support Of Proposed State Law Banning Vaccination Exemptions; Want Amendments

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) -- The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday in support of proposed state legislation that would eliminate all but medical exemptions to vaccination requirements of children.

The 4-1 vote came after a 90-minute hearing on the board's intention to send a letter in support of Senate Bill 277. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Committee on Health and the Senate Committee on Education on April 8.

The board's letter has amendments that request clarification on whether home-schooled children are affected by the state legislation. Supervisor Steve Kinsey dissented.

Kinsey said the letter needs clarification about home-schooling and he believes there should be respect for personal choice and additional information about alternative viewpoints.

"For me, it's not the science, it's the matter of education, of trust and of personal choice," Kinsey said.

State law currently allows a parent or guardian to have a child exempted from one or more immunizations before entering school or child care if immunization is contrary to family beliefs.

The proposed bill would eliminate personal belief exemptions, permit only medical exemptions and direct school boards to disclose school immunization rates to parents and guardians of children in attendance.

Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matthew Willis said the county's vaccination opt-out rate was 6.5 percent at the end of 2014, down from 7.8 percent in 2012. Marin County, however, had the highest opt-out rate in California in 2010 and some kindergartens had opt-out rates higher than 50 percent, Willis said.

Willis said vaccinations are safe, effective and protect the community from communicable diseases.

The board's letter states Marin County experienced a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and pertussis, because residents refused or delayed vaccinating their children, thereby exposing others to potentially fatal illness and weakening community immunity.

Once the board's letter is amended, it will be sent to state Sens. Richard Penn and Benjamin Allen, its authors, and co-author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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