By California Black Media Staff
“The Science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children from a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” wrote Gov. Jerry Brown in a press statement his office released after he signed California’s controversial SB 277 legislation this morning in Sacramento.
Also referred to as the “School Vaccine Bill, the new law strips away the right of parents to opt out of vaccinating their children due to personal or religious beliefs unless they keep their children out of all public and private schools and daycares. The measure gained steam after a measles outbreak that originated in Disneyland in Anaheim and affected about 135 people.
It was co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who is also a pediatrician, and Ben Allen (D-Sacramento).
Opponents reacted to the unexpected news that the governor signed the bill this morning – less than 24 hours after it hit his desk.
“We are not moved by what the governor or other politicians are saying,” said Min. Tony Muhammad who is the Los Angeles Representative of the Nation of Islam and has been a staunch and vocal opponent of SB. 277. “We know how powerful the pharmaceutical companies are – particularly Merck. And they have paid for the votes of our politicians.”
Muhammad insists that he is not anti-vaccine – and he is aware how, historically, they have saved lives. However, he explains, that parents – particularly African Americans – do not have enough information about the safety of vaccines for California to make them mandatory without asking the hard questions.
“It does not alleviate the fact that we have not heard from Dr. William Thompson,” Muhammad said, referring to a senior scientist at the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) who has invoked federal whistleblower status and who admits his team omitted data about African American boys from a major vaccination safety study. The results of the research study, which investigated a connection between the Measles Mumps and Rubella shot and Autism, might have been different with the data included.
“All the people who back this law are referring to the results of a study whose lead scientist says the data is flawed,” says Muhammad. “We need answers. We need to ask Dr. Thompson ‘What did you lie about?’”
Muhammad said his mentor and Nation of Islam (NOI) leader, Louis Farrakhan, has added the issue of Vaccine Safety to his national agenda and it will be part of the issues at the forefront of the group’s 20th anniversary celebration of the 1995 Million Man March this October in Washington. He says the NOI plans to follow up that rally with another one in Atlanta, Georgia, home to the CDC’s headquarters.
“What if Thompson appears before Congress and we find out there is an issue with these vaccines? ” questions Muhammad. “They will have to answer to millions of Americans.”
For parents whose kids might have a reaction to vaccines, the governor says there is a way out with the medical exemption.
“SB 277, while requiring that school children be vaccinated, explicitly provides an exception when the physician believes that circumstances – in the judgment and sound description of the physician – so warrant.”
Opponents are not convinced. In a climate where most pediatricians are firing patients who do not vaccinate fully and on schedule, getting a medical exemption is out of reach for most families.