South Bay parents protest over controversial vaccine bill

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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Hundreds of parents held a protest Monday against a controversial bill that would restrict their ability to opt out of vaccinations for their children.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Parents held a protest Monday against a controversial bill that would restrict their ability to opt out of vaccinations for their children and they're demanding they call the shots.

Demonstrations were held throughout California and weren't organized by any single group.

Hundreds of parents protested in front of California State Senator Jim Beall's office in Campbell, a supporter of mandatory vaccinations.

Similar gatherings were held in different parts of California. "I believe in medical freedom. I believe in a patient and a parent's right to make a choice for their own child. Talking directly with their own medical doctor, not a politician," Sherri Tomlin said.

"So there is a real risk in it and I think I as a parent have a choice on whether or not to take that risk, whether I take the risk with the disease or whether I take a risk with the known dangers of vaccines," Lana Rapa said.

Those who support California State Senate Bill 277 are upset that the measure may now be watered down.

Senate Bill 277 is one of the most controversial in recent memory. It calls for all school students to be vaccinated.

The bill was introduced by Democratic California State Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen. It's received the support of lawmakers like Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The recent outbreak of measles prompted this action.

"We are clearly at the point where our community immunity is dropping too low and children are at risk," Pan said.

But fearing the bill may not pass in the Senate, Pan and Allen are not considering changes. The new legislation could read like this: Those unvaccinated children from second grade through sixth grade would be grandfathered in and would not have to be vaccinated. This means only children entering child care, kindergarten and seventh grade would still have to be vaccinated.

This compromise is said to be a political move to appease opponents. Some parents said they're the ones who should call the shots. "It is bothering me that the state is telling me what to do for my kids.

Pan has received so many phone calls that his office now has two phone lines, one specifically for this bill and the second for everything else.

For full coverage on the vaccine debate, click here.