That late December/early 2015 outbreak of measles traced from Disneyland to other parts of Orange County, across California, over the border to Mexico and to other states such as Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Washington state prompted Golden State vaccination legislation that was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown Tuesday–and then immediately blasted by Orange County Republican legislators and a pediatrician embraced by "anti-vaxxers" or those opposed to or skeptical of vaccinations.
Senate Bill 277, which was co-sponsored by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Sen./pediatrician Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), was crafted partly as a reaction to the Anaheim outbreak that eventually infected 130 people across the state.
The bill requires that almost all schoolchildren in California be vaccinated against diseases such as measles and whooping cough, eliminating exemptions based on religious or personal beliefs. All children entering kindergarten must now be vaccinated unless a doctor certifies there is a medical condition, such as allergies, preventing it.
In his message with the bill, Brown said he listened to impassioned, well-meaning arguments from both sides but, "The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infection and dangerous diseases. While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."
But Dr. Bob Sears, the Capistrano Beach pediatrician featured in an August 2012 Weekly cover story and, more recently is a post about how he compared anti-vaxxers to Jews under Nazis, called Governor Brown's action "sad day for California." For a lengthier rant, check out his Facebook page that's excerpted on the next page here.
City News Service collected the thoughts of three Orange County legislators–one whose district covers last winter's ground zero for measles (Anaheim) and two others who represent areas to the south with high numbers of so-called "anti-vaxxers" or vaccination skeptics and opponents–and all indicated they opposed the bill.
"I am a proponent of vaccines and I've got my kids vaccinated,'' said Don Wagner (R-Tustin), whose district includes the Disney Resort area. "I think by and large it's the right thing to do from a medical and public health standpoint. However, there are people who have very legitimate concerns that are either religious or with their own particular children in the timing of the vaccines. I think it's bad precedent to have the government run roughshod over those concerns, so my vote was to err on the side of freedom and liberty and parental choice."
But not the choice of parents who don't want their kids exposed to possibly deadly diseases, of course.
"I'm not anti-vaccination, I'm just saying make sure the mothers are comfortable; let them own the position," said state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Irvine). "Once they understand it and once they're convinced there's no reactions'' then they will support it.
Until then, let Little Johnny use what's running out of his nose as the bonding agent for the playground mud pies. Why, to do otherwise would be unpatriotic!
"I come from a place of freedom and liberty, and to be told I have to do something or face dire consequences, it just smacks of totalitarianism," Moorlach said with, I'm pretty sure, no chuckle like the one that just came out of my mouth. But here's the real whopper: Moorlach also said he has concerns about "big pharmaceutical" companies having an undue influence on the debate.
Do you know what happened Monday to Moorlach? Senate President pro Tempore, Kevin de León appointed Moorlach to serve on the State Senate's Extraordinary Session on Health Care's Public Health and Developmental Services Committee.
"Health care is one of the largest industries in Orange County," said Moorlach, here obviously concerned for its well-being. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to work side-by-side with my Senate colleagues and eager to find the most cost-effective options to the many critical health issues affecting our state."
Prepare for more head-spinning: Moorlach demonized "Big Pharma" (and, come to think of it, Disney) for supporting his opponent in the March state Senate race … drum roll … Wagner! So, given both oppose the vaccination bill, guess ol' Don's no longer in the pocket of Big Pharma.
Previously outed as a hotbed for the anti-vaxx movement is South Orange County, large swaths of which are represented by state Sen. Patricia Bates (R-San Juan Capistrano), who parrots Wagner and Moorlach by saying she is pro-vaccinations, anti-the vaccinations bill.
"While the bill grandfathers in non-vaccinated children currently attending public schools, it does not apply to their younger siblings who have yet to enter school," she wrote in a letter to constituents. "This would force parents to either violate their personal beliefs or take them out of public school.
"Simply put, SB 277 does not go far enough to ensure that non-vaccinated children receive equal access to the high quality public education that the California Constitution guarantees and therefore I cannot support it."
Wonder if she'd support home schooling these kids in her district office during the next measles outbreak?
From Dr. Bob Sears' Facebook page:
DR. BOB'S DAILY:
Been so busy seeing patients today that I haven't had a chance to write. But we all knew it was coming. Don't even know what to say. I've already written a piece on navigating through the new vaccine law that I need to polish off and will post in the days to come.
Have spoken with the OC Register, USA Today and LA Times – will post links to those as they come through.
Deep breath. Realize, just to be clear, that nothing goes into effect until the next school year (a year from now). The grandfathering helps. The IEPs help. Options for medical exemptions help.
But the stripping of personal, religious, and medical freedom complete sucks.
Oh, here's something – I think the final yes votes in the combined Senate and Assembly only came out to 70 out of 120 Legislators. This barely passed.
If vaccines were so good that they should be forced on everyone, 120 Legislators would have voted yes. If this bill was only about Dr. Pan's mantra, "Vaccines are safe. Vaccines save lives. Everyone should vaccinate," then everyone would have voted yes.
So, why did almost half of the Legislature fail to vote yes even though they support the idea in the mantra? It's because the smart ones who could look beyond the mantra into the facts of the bill realized it was unnecessary, it won't work, and it robs the constitutional right to attend school. Bottom line. Thought the Governor might see that. He was told those facts. He didn't listen.
Dr. Bob (still licensed)