California lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill that would require schoolchildren in the state to be vaccinated amid impassioned pleas from parents and doctors, even activist Robert Kennedy Jr.
Under the proposal, parents would no longer be able to send unvaccinated kids to school with waivers citing religious or personal beliefs. Exemptions would be available only for children with health problems.
Supporters say the measure would increase the number of vaccinated young people and improve public health.
Ariel Loop told lawmakers that such a plan could have prevented her child from contracting measles at Disneyland. “My infant shouldn’t have had to suffer. He shouldn’t, still months later, be having complications with his eyes,” she said. “I shouldn’t have had to fear for his life.”
Opponents, however, say vaccines can be as dangerous as the diseases they aim to fight and that the bill would trample parental rights.
Karen Kain said her daughter died of injuries from a mercury-tainted vaccine. “I stand here today before you to share my story so you can all see and hear what happens when vaccines go wrong,” she said. “Who gets to make the choice now of whose babies are more important? Because there is risk, there must be choice.”
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