(Los Angeles–AFP) – California’s governor on Tuesday signed a bill toughening vaccination requirements for children, following a measles outbreak and outcry across the country.
The new law will require all children to be immunized before entering kindergarten, with exceptions allowed only if a doctor advises against immunization, said Jerry Brown.
“The science is clear, that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” he said, adding: “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
The bill, approved by state lawmakers earlier in June, exempts a child if a doctor says there are “circumstances, including but not limited to, family medical history, for which the physician does not recommend immunization.”
The measure garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats after a measles outbreak in December in the Disneyland theme park affected some 130 people.
In total during the outbreak, 159 cases of measles were recorded between January and April in 18 states and the US capital.
The viral disease was believed to have disappeared years ago in the US thanks to vaccination programs. But when some parents stopped vaccinating their children due to a range of beliefs, measles made a comeback.
The disease is highly contagious. It causes fever and rash and can lead to brain damage, loss of hearing or sight and sometimes death.
Infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.