Dems push to require vaccines in Head Start

California Democrats are pushing to require vaccination for the more than a million children enrolled in the federal Head Start program.

The legislation, introduced in both the House and Senate on Thursday, would require all children to be fully vaccinated unless they have a medical condition that prevents it.


Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif), who has led the effort, has raised alarms about the declining rates of childhood vaccinations, particularly in her home state, which has seen outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles. California has reported more than 100 cases of measles in the last two months, mostly among unvaccinated children.

“This legislation is an important first step in the broader effort to strengthen our vaccination policies at all levels of government to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases.” Boxer said in a statement.

The bill would end vaccine exemptions in Head Start for religious and personal beliefs. Children woud only be exempted if a doctor determines that he or she has a pre-existing condition such as autoimmune deficiency, is undergoing chemotherapy treatment or recently received a transplant.

Parents would have three months to update their children’s vaccinations using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They could also opt to receive assistance from Head Start to get their children vaccinated.

California's state lawmakers have also rushed to strengthen vaccination laws in recent weeks, introducing a bill to eliminate "personal belief" waivers for all public school children. Boxer and her Senate colleague, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Khashoggi fiancée meets with lawmakers seeking 'justice and accountability' for his slaying Schiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), also raised alarms about the vaccine waivers last week, penning a letter to the state's health department urging it to strengthen the state's requirements.

The Senate bill was introduced by Boxer and Feinstein. The House bill is led by California Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo, Judy Chu, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails Trump urges GOP to fight for him House rejects GOP measure censuring Schiff MORE, Jackie Speier, Doris Matsui, Mike Honda and Jared Huffman.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) was the only lawmaker not from California to sign on to the bill.

The vaccination debate has roared back to life amid the recent measles outbreak, which has stretched from California and Arizona to New York. The U.S. has already reported more measles cases in the past month than are usually reported in a year.

A patchwork of state laws set the rules on child vaccinations, with nearly all allowing people to opt out of vaccines for personal or religious reasons. Only Mississippi and West Virginia do not allow exemptions.