- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - In the wake of one of the worst measles outbreaks in recent history, a California lawmaker proposed a bill Wednesday that would require all child care and pre-school workers to get vaccinated against several contagious diseases.

Because the workers have close contact with children, it makes sense to require them to be vaccinated against measles, pertussis, influenza and other diseases, Sen. said Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia.

“We must do everything in our power to protect California’s children who spend time in day care,” Mendoza said in announcing his bill, SB792.

Public health officials said more than 100 people in California have contracted measles, a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause pneumonia, brain damage and death in rare cases.

About two-thirds of those people visited or worked at Disneyland or had contact with somebody who was there. About two dozen other measles cases tied to Disneyland have been confirmed in six states, Mexico and Canada.

Mendoza’s bill would require child care workers to comply with adult immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including influenza, pertussis and measles. Those workers currently face no immunization requirements.

The bill was sponsored by public health officers.

“This bill 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, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California.

Child care operators were open to the proposal.

“It’s a good idea,” said Sharon Coleman, who runs Loving Care for Kids in Suisun City and is immediate past president of the California Association for Family Child Care. “You can’t work with the kids if you come down with any of that stuff. It protects us.”

Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica, have proposed another bill that requires school children to get vaccinated unless a child’s health is endangered by vaccination.

Under SB277, parents could no longer cite personal beliefs or religious reasons to send unvaccinated children to private and public schools. If the bill is passed, California would join Mississippi and West Virginia in enacting such stringent restrictions.

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