By Susan Abrams, Staff Writer
As California measles cases edge closer to triple digits, two state senators are expected to announce legislation Wednesday to change the current immunization requirements in schools.
The senators — Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician who represents Sacramento, and Ben Allen, the former board president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District who represents much of the Westside and a portion of Torrance — would not say Tuesday what sort of changes their bill proposes.
But the state’s vaccination rate has raised concerns amid one of the worst measles outbreaks in 15 years.
Current California law allows parents to skip vaccinating their children under what is called a personal belief exemption. Parents who oppose vaccines must receive information by a health professional, unless their decision is based on religious belief.
More than 13,000 kindergartners are not vaccinated, according to published reports.
On Monday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted there were 102 measles cases in 14 states, including New York. The outbreak stems from an infected visitor to Disney Parks in late December, and cases then spread across the Golden State. Most are in California, where there are 92 cases statewide. Almost 20 percent are in Los Angeles County. An update is expected to be given on Wednesday during a news conference by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
While some school districts are telling unvaccinated children to stay home and a child care center in Santa Monica that reported one case remained closed, the Los Angeles Unified School District said there are no confirmed cases.
Measles vaccines have been available in the United States since 1963, and two doses have been recommended for infants since 1989.
The vaccine, which prevents measles, mumps and rubella, is 99 percent effective, but 1 percent of those who are immunized can still get sick, health officials have said. Those who are concerned about their safety can have a blood test to check their immunity.