Supporters plan to revise stalled California vaccine bill

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Supporters plan to revise stalled California vaccine bill
A California vaccination bill that has generated intense debates pitting personal rights against public health stalled in the state Senate Wednesday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- It was an emotional day in the state Senate on Wednesday during a public hearing on a vaccination issue. Senate Bill 277 would require parents to vaccinate their children before they could attend public schools.

The bill that's generated intense debates pitting personal rights against public health stalled on Wednesday. Senators seemed to support vaccinations in general, but didn't think the bill went far enough in protecting the education rights of those whose parents refuse them.

"Please vote yes on SB277," said 7-year-old Rhett Krawitt.

He's only a first-grader, but Rhett made sure to send a clear message to lawmakers considering a bill that would require children to be vaccinated before they attend public school.

"Thank you for making sure that kids like me don't get sick at school," said Rhett.

He is a leukemia survivor with a compromised immune system who could not attend his Tiburon school because 7 percent of his fellow students were not immunized.

"If you put a bunch of children together in a school and the vaccination rate isn't high enough, there's an exposure," said Sen. Richard Pan, a Democratic pediatrician from Sacramento. "And if it's not high enough to contain it, it will spread."

Others argue that it should be up to parents and their doctors whether their children are vaccinated.

"I feel very strongly about vaccinations," said one senator. "I think it's very important."

Some senators voiced support for vaccines, but also concerns about the current bill's provisions for educating those who are not immunized.

"And are we basically going to be setting up a framework of regulations that forces them outside the public education system?" asked Republican Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

When it became clear the bill would not make it out of committee in its current form, Pan opted to delay the vote.

"That's just part of the political process," said Rhett's father, Carl Krawitt. "You see, that's what I love about democracy. And we have the luxury of living in America, where we can debate issues and understand them."

SB277 may return to the Senate committee for a vote next week.

For full coverage on the vaccine debate, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.