As 99 cases of measles have been confirmed in California, a new bill has been proposed in the state senate that would change the state’s Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) for childhood vaccinations. Critics argue that the exemption is not restrictive enough and should only be applicable to those with an underlying medical condition or religious objection.

Presently, the PBE allows parents or guardians to seek an exemption if one of the two following criteria is met:

  • The family’s religion prohibits medical advice or treatment from authorized healthcare practitioners.
  • The parents or guardians have received information provided by an authorized healthcare provider regarding the benefits and risks of immunization, and the health risks to the child and to the community of the communicable diseases for which immunization is required in California.

A recent study in Pediatrics found that nearly 18% of children in Marin Country and 22.7% in Vallejo had not received all of the recommended vaccines from 2010–2012; over 7% of all parents of infants and young children in San Francisco had refused all vaccines. Near Sacramento, 13.5% of young children had received no vaccinations as well.

State senator Richard Pan, a physician, is co-sponsoring the bill with state senator Ben Allen.

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