California Officials Say Measles Outbreak Is Over Just As Vaccine Bill Stalls In Committee

California Department of Public Health declared the measles outbreak in the state officially over. Reports indicate that 131 of California’s 38.8 million people contracted measles during an outbreak that spurred on a heated vaccine debate and made way for a vaccine bill that has stalled amidst “Right to Education” concerns. Forty-two of the measles cases in the outbreak were directly linked to Disneyland, and the additional cases were considered secondary, according to the California Department of Health. California health officials say that because two 21-day incubation periods have passed since a case has been reported in the state, the Disneyland outbreak in California has passed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a close call came during the measles outbreak when one person with measles inadvertently exposed 98 infants, including 44 infants in a neonatal intensive care unit, at one hospital alone. Infants are too young to be vaccinated, which made the exposure at that hospital especially worrisome at the time, according to that report. According to the California Department of Public Health, thousands of Californians were exposed, including babies too young to be vaccinated, and measles tests were given to over 1,000 patients who had been exposed and started to show symptoms that could have been measles.

The outbreak, which ended up less extensive than originally feared, led two state senators to introduce a controversial bill that would have ended all non-medical school vaccine exemptions, regardless of whether the school was public or private. SB 277 won the swift approval of the Senate Health Committee in California.

“As a pediatrician and a father myself, I respect the very personal decisions that parents have to make for their children every day,” said California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, who authored SB 277. “But I’ve personally witnessed the suffering caused by vaccine-preventable diseases, and all children deserve to be safe at school. The personal belief exemption is now putting other school children and people in our community in danger.”

Last week, though, the bill, brought on by the California measles scare, stalled in the Senate Education Committee after hundreds of parents voiced their concern at that meeting saying that they would remove their children from school if California passed the bill that would remove religious and philosophical school exemptions, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

A spokesperson for the California Coalition for Health Choice said that the official declaration of the end of the measles outbreak, which resulted in no deaths and fewer cases than anticipated, confirmed her opinion that there was no vaccine crisis in California. According to the bill’s opponent, vaccination rates went up from the 2013/2014 school year to the 2014/2015 school year, and California’s children are vaccinated at a rate of 97.46 percent overall. Hundreds of parents and children testified at the committee meeting in California on Wednesday. Many feared that if the bill passed, parents would have to comply fully with a vaccination schedule that could include future vaccines that haven’t even been created yet, or be forced to remove their children from school.

Health officials in California say that the risks from vaccination are slim and that they do not cause autism. Anti-vaccine advocates say their concerns that there could be an association between vaccines and encephalopathy, autoimmune disease, and impairment of gut health are not being heard. Others argue that their religious beliefs cause them to decline vaccines, though California lawmakers in support of the bill say that there is no major religion that requires vaccine refusal.

At the meeting, other parents showed up to support the bill’s passing. Carl Krawitt’s 7-year-old son was a leukemia survivor. He said that his lowered immune system would make him especially susceptible to diseases that could be passed along by unvaccinated children. Last week, the Inquisitr also reported that a formerly anti-vaccination mom changed her mind about vaccines due to a scare in association with the measles outbreak at Disneyland in California. Tara Hills of Kanata, Ontario, met with a pediatrician to plan a vaccination schedule for her seven under-vaccinated children. Not long after that appointment and a week before vaccines were set to start, her kids all came down with whooping cough. Hills says the vaccine didn’t come soon enough for her kids, though vaccine choice advocates were quick to point out that even FDA researcher Tod Merkel publicly expressed his disappointment after a government study found that baboons vaccinated with the current acellular pertussis vaccine were contagious for five weeks after being exposed to pertussis.

“It could explain the increase in pertussis that we’re seeing in the U.S.,” Merkel said at the time.

Amidst all the debates and controversy over vaccines and personal choice, Senator Carol Liu of the Senate Education Committee told the bill’s author, Senator Richard Pan, that the bill would not be approved by the Senate Education Committee panel in its current form, according to a separate Los Angeles Times report. Pan agreed to delay the vote. According to KPCC News, the bill’s supporters agreed to address the panel’s concerns and would likely reattempt a vote later this week.

Do you think that with the measles outbreak in California officially declared over that lawmakers will find a way to gain the approval of the Education Committee or has vaccine choice become even more viral than measles itself?

[Photo via California State Senator Dr. Pan/Facebook]