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Vaccine battle to begin in California

California is poised to become a battleground over strict vaccine laws, an issue that has become even more inflamed since 2019, when anti-vaccine protesters were arrested and a state lawmaker assaulted.

State Sen. Richard Pan (D–Sacramento) this week introduced Senate Bill 871, which would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school vaccines, eliminating personal or religious exemptions for the immunization on Jan. 1, 2023.

“The vaccination requirement is a cornerstone to keeping schools open and safe,” Pan said in an interview. “This vaccine has proven to be safe and effective.”

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been granted full approval for children aged 5-15, but has emergency authorization. Pan’s bill wouldn’t require full approval to take effect, but he said it could come later this year.

Pan, a pediatrician, is also co-authoring a bill by Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco) to allow teenagers to get vaccinated without parental consent. Other bills lawmakers are reportedly crafting would issue broader vaccine requirements among workers and customers.

Heated protests over vaccines aren’t new at the state Capitol, and Pan is no stranger to threats, taunts and physical assault from people who oppose vaccines and vaccine mandates.

In 2019, Pan authored SB276, which clamped down on non-medical exemptions for school immunizations. That year, he was shoved near the state Capitol by an opponent to the bill, who livestreamed the confrontation. In another incident, a protester hurled a menstrual cup full of blood from the Senate gallery onto lawmakers below. Several people were arrested for blocking access to the Capitol.

“It speaks to the poverty of their arguments,” Pan said. “Too often the opposition to bills like this one are not based on science and facts, and instead the opposition resorts to threats and violence.”

Pan has also authored laws requiring schools to verify students are immunized as well as ending personal exemptions for the shots in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

Story continues at: Vaccine Fight 

Joe Messina

Joe Messina

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