California's state assembly approved a strict bill on Thursday that would bar parents from opting out of vaccinating their children for personal or religious reasons. If the bill becomes law, California would be only the third state in the country to say that religion is not a valid reason for parents to not to immunize their kids. According to the Associated Press, the bill was protested by some parents before it was passed by (mostly) Democrats.
The decisions comes on the heels of a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and sickened 131 kids. The outbreak started in December and was over by April, but officials were scared during the event itself. The Los Angeles Times reported in January:
It is the beginning of a scenario experts have feared. Health officials generally hope a measles outbreak can be contained within a manageable group of people and eventually extinguished by keeping the ill at home or in a hospital room until they recover, with the outbreak eventually being stopped by the broader community of vaccinated people. But kindergarten measles vaccination rates have been falling almost every year since 2002 in California, and the virus now appears to be spreading.
The bill was introduced by Senators Richard Pan and Benjamin Allen back in February, and has met with resistance from opponents since. Before the bill is sent to state Governor Jerry Brown, the state assembly will have to approve amendments.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.