Group gathers to protest against bill mandating vaccinations for school children

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Opponents of a bill aimed at making vaccinations mandatory in California are putting last-minute pressure on lawmakers to vote against it.

The campaign moved from Sacramento to the South Bay on Friday.

About 30 people gathered at a rally and one woman really stood out. Angelita Garcia-Stonehocker is a Sunnyvale mother of two boys. Her older son Toby, 6, got very sick at 18 months when he was vaccinated. "He was going into seizures for several days. I was very concerned. He was limp in my arms. I could barely hold him because he was so hot," she said.

That experience led to a decision not to vaccinate her younger 2-year-old son named Tadeo. "I'm not against vaccination. I definitely see the benefit of vaccination and that's why I've tried to vaccinate my own child and I would love to continue vaccinating both of my children, but not at this kind of risk," she said.

A bill to require vaccinations may be heading to the assembly floor in Sacramento as early as next week. Local pediatricians say it's an important step. "It's critical that all children get vaccinated and prevent diseases that could potentially kill them or destroy their mental function," San Jose pediatrician Christine Halaburka said.

Jennifer Foreman is the chief of Primary Care Pediatrics at Valley Medical Center and she says unvaccinated children pose a threat to the very young and to people with medical issues. "People who can't be vaccinated due to medical problems, immune problems, kids with leukemia, adults with chemotherapy are also at high risk for catching disease from unvaccinated kids," Foreman said.

The bill's author is a physician and his advocacy has made him the target of an online recall campaign. "We should not be putting people in danger. We should be focusing on doing what's right for the people of California, making sure we keep them safe from diseases that are preventable," St. Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, said.

For full coverage on the vaccine debate, click here.
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