Ashley Min Joo Kim is a rising freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
Over the past few months, the proponents of universal immunization in California made rapid and momentous changes to the state’s vaccination laws. Governor Jerry Brown approved the new immunization bill, SB277, first introduced in February of this year by Senator Richard Pan, only a day after the bill was presented to him.  This bill comes in the wake of the infamous Disneyland measles outbreak this past winter, which affected hundreds of children not in California and across the nation. 
The immunization legislation that existed at the time of the outbreak (and that is in effect today) requires that schools and other similar institutions only admit students that have been vaccinated against the diseases specified by the state of California. However, the law allows immunization exemptions for “medical reasons or… [because of] personal beliefs.”  Senator Pan’s bill, SB277, “eliminate[s] the exemption from immunization based upon personal beliefs.”  Many have welcomed this bill, as a way to safeguard the health of the community. They are supported by studies that show vaccines to be effective 90% to 100% of the time, especially if the vaccinations are given at a younger age.  Many proponents of SB277 also claim that the new law will protect children who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical circumstances. This concept of associative immunization is referred to as herd immunity. In order for herd immunity to succeed in effectively immunizing those that have not been vaccinated, 90% to 95% of the population must be vaccinated. 
In addition, many parents are voicing concerns based on their own unfortunate past experiences with vaccinating their children. Their anecdotes depict how their children endured serious pain as a result of various side-effects of the vaccines. Some parents feel that with twenty-first century medicine, it would be preferable to treat an illness rather than suffer the possible negative side effects of a vaccine. 
The opposition to SB277 has also expressed disappointment that Governor Brown approved the bill after only one of the twelve days allotted for his decision Meanwhile, supporters laud Governor Brown for his prominent support of the bill, claiming that “science trumps emotion” when it comes to the health of the greater community.  In response to the new bill, opponents of SB277 have initiated a recall effort to remove Senator Pan from office. To succeed, the petition must gather 35,926 signatures from Pan’s district.  The proponents of the bill have countered this attack by initiating the “Keep Dr. Pan” campaign. If the opposition does not disrupt the trajectory of the bill, SB277 will go into effect in July of 2016.  Regardless of the bill’s fate, SB277 has raised important questions surrounding the symbiosis of corporate America and the American government, and the necessity of sacrificing certain personal liberties in order to protect the general welfare. It will be interesting to see how these issues resolve themselves—not only in California, but also on the national stage.
 Susan Abram, “California Gov. Jerry Brown signs school vaccination bill into law,” Los Angeles Daily News, June 30, 2015, accessed August 3, 2015, http://www.dailynews.com/health/20150630/california-gov-jerry-brown-signs-school-vaccination-bill-into-law.
 California Legislature, Senate Bill No. 277, Chapter 35, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB277 (accessed August 4, 2015).
 “Vaccines are Effective,” vaccines.gov, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.vaccines.gov/basics/effectiveness/.
 Katharine Browne, “Measles, Vaccination, and the Tragedy of the Commons,” in The Hastings Center Report, February 25, 2015, accessed July 31, 2015, http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Bioethicsforum/Post.aspx?id=7315&blogid=140.
 Jon Rappoport, “Mandatory Vaccination in California: Follow the Big Money,” GlobalResearch.ca, August 3, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.globalresearch.ca/mandatory-vaccination-in-california-follow-the-big-money/5466615.
 Ibid. 1.
 Ibid. 1.
 Anita Chabria, “California senator who fought to make vaccines mandatory faces recall efforts,” The Guardian, July 30, 2015, accessed August 4, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/30/california-sb-277-vaccines-opponents-recall.
 Ibid. 1.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Melissa Wiese
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