California is one of 20 states that allows parents to “opt out” of vaccines for their children simply by signing a form. It's called a "personal belief exemption." But AB 2109 would change that. The bill has cleared the Assembly and is starting its path through Senate committees.
If the bill becomes law, parents who wish to refuse vaccines would first need to receive counseling from a licensed health professional about the risks and benefits of skipping immunizations for their children.
Vaccination rates in California have been dropping in recent years, worrying public health officials. Ten infants died in a whooping cough outbreak in 2009.
"Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan wrote the bill. He’s also a pediatrician and says parents’ decision not to vaccinate their own child puts others at risk too.
Very young children, infants may be too young to be immunized," he told me in a recent interview. "People with cancer and on chemotherapy, people with HIV or AIDS ... they cannot receive immunizations."