Governor Brown signed SB792, authored by Senator Tony Mendoza, on Saturday, October 11, to protect California children in daycare from contracting serious, potentially fatal diseases.
The bill requires family daycare home and daycare center workers and volunteers to be vaccinated against measles, pertussis and influenza, to go into effect January 1, 2016.
“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 792,” said Mendoza in a statement.“With the deadly outbreaks of measles and influenza this year, we must do everything in our power to protect California’s children who spend time in day care. If this new law can prevent the loss of even one child due to a communicable disease, then it will be considered a success. Because one child’s death is one too many, especially when it may be preventable.”
Currently, there are no immunization requirements for day care workers, while SB 792 allows for circumstances under which a person would be exempt from the immunization requirement, based on medical safety, current immunity or declining the influenza vaccination, according to the release.
Melissa Floyd, Data Analyst for the California Coalition for Health Choice, the organization behind the protest in June against SB277, a bill that would prohibit schools from admitting unvaccinated students, disagreed.
“Similar to SB277, where students with previous vaccine reactions will have to choose between their health and their education, daycare and pre-school teachers who have had previous reactions to vaccines will have to choose between their health and their jobs," said Floyd.
Floyd said medical exemptions are “nearly impossible to attain” and parent volunteers will also be affected by the new law.
“Is it really fair to exclude parents over a perceived risk?” she said. “This law will definitely affect daycare centers, nursery schools, in home daycares, and pre-schools locally and across the state. This law will be a job killer, and will ultimately shut down many schools and centers that rely heavily on parent volunteers in order to keep costs down, such as co-ops.”
Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell says he voted for the SB792 to ensure that adults in daycare centers take this step toward preventing the transmission of deadly infections with the young children they work with in mind.
"Speaking as a father and a teacher, I cannot think of anything more important than protecting the health and wellbeing of our children,” said O’Donnell. “We know vaccines prevent the spread of common communicable diseases, but children under a certain age are simply too young to be fully vaccinated."
As recently as the year 2000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had declared that measles was eliminated, meaning there had been an absence of continuous disease transmission for at least one year, from the United States. This was made possible due to a highly effective vaccination program and better measles control, according to the release.
However, from December 28, 2014 to April 10, 2015, there have been 134 confirmed cases of measles in California according to the California Department of Public Health. The one confirmed measles case in Long Beach was likely part of this outbreak that originated from a traveler who became infected overseas and visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California while contagious.
Additional measles cases emerged, including a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) passenger with measles who travelled from Millbrae to San Francisco, potentially exposing more than 1500 riders, according to the release. In 2013-2014, there were 404 confirmed influenza-caused deaths, including ten pediatric deaths of which three were under the age of five.
Children in daycare settings have close contact with each other and with daycare staff, and ultimately rely on those around them to maintain their immunizations in order to stop the spread of disease, states the release. Often the children are too young to be fully immunized themselves and are vaccinated against diseases based on a schedule by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Mendoza says that children under the age of five are one of the most vulnerable age groups for contracting infection from serious diseases, that it’s critical to employ all available methods to protect to them.
“This is not just a common sense solution, but makes scientific sense,” he said in a statement.
“The health officers want to thank Senator Mendoza for authoring this groundbreaking bill. It will help protect our most vulnerable citizens–infants and small children–from life-threatening communicable diseases, some of whom are too young to be vaccinated,” said Kat DeBurgh, MPH, Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California, the sponsors of the bill, in a statement.
For more information about SB792, click here.