The California senate is considering a bill this summer which would force parents who decline child immunizations to get counseling first. Assemblyman Richard Pan is the author of the bill, which requires parents to to get a waiver from their doctor after they are consulted by their doctors on the potential risks. The waiver would be issued after parents concerns were addressed by their children’s doctors, leading to informed consent.
Pan says he’s not trying to deny parents their right to refuse vaccinations for their children, but to make sure parents are making those decision based on informed consent. Pan in concerned parents are making decisions which may be influenced by rumors and misinformation found on the Internet. He cites some parents beliefs which lead them to mistakenly believe vaccinations cause Autism. Pan also suggests parents have become to comfortable, coming from generations who haven’t had the misfortune of witnessing the tragedies of dangerous, widespread and preventable diseases.
According to the Mercury News, ten infants died from whooping cough in 2010 and 9,000 people were diagnosed with whooping cough in California. The rising number of potentially fatal illnesses has continued to increase with a coinciding number of parents who are refusing childhood vaccinations or putting them off. Vaccine refusal has risen to 25% in just the past two years.
Critics of the bill say that it’s influenced by pharmaceutical companies through lobbying efforts. Opponents also criticize the governments role in what appears to be forced immunization.
Pan says this isn’t about corporate influence or parental force, it’s about parents protecting entire communities:
“This is about protecting our community. When a parent makes that decision, they need to recognize and understand that has an impact not only on their own child, but also on the larger community and the school.”