California officials announced their intentions to introduce legislation to require vaccinations.
“The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community,” said California state Senator Ben Allen, who is co-sponsoring the bill. “We need to take steps to keep our schools safe and our students healthy.”
If passed, California would become the 33rd state to prohibit parents from opting out of vaccinations based on personal beliefs. Currently, 19 states allow a personal belief exemption.
Colorado, which permits opt-outs, has the lowest vaccination rate in the U.S. at 81.7 percent. The highest rate is in Mississippi’s 99.7 percent. The New York Times reports that “only children with medical conditions that would be exacerbated by vaccines may enroll in Mississippi schools without completing the immunization schedule,” which is one of the strictest policies in the nation.
The Autism Speaks statement is a milestone in a debate caused by a 1998 report in a British medical journal claiming that the MMR vaccine leads to autism. The journal later found the report to be false and retracted its findings, and the physician who wrote the article, Andrew Wakefield, was stripped of his medical license.
Photo by By United States Department of Health and Human Services via Wikimedia Commons.