Hundreds of families opposed to vaccinations piled into the California Capitol on Wednesday to protest a bill that would give the state control over which children are exempt from mandatory vaccinations, the Sacramento Bee reported.
According to the paper, the families called the legislation "draconian," with one protester claiming that lawmakers supporting the bill are "brainwashed."
The protests came during a hearing on the bill in the Senate Committee on Health.
A packed, heated (figuratively and literally) noisy crowd stands outside @DrPanMD’s Senate Committee on Health. #SB276 is up for debate. The bill cracks down on authorizing vaccine medical exemptions. pic.twitter.com/qDR7JQwgWc— Hannah Wiley (@hannahcwiley) April 24, 2019
Protesters were countered by doctors encouraging the committee to approve the legislation, which would establish a system to monitor doctors who are granting medical exemptions for vaccinations, according to the Bee.
The bill would require the California state health department to vet each standardized medical exemption form filled out by physicians and create a database of which doctors are granting the exemptions.
Doctors say the bill will prevent outbreaks of diseases, according to the newspaper.
The protests came the same day federal health officials declared that measles cases in the U.S. have reached an all-time high since the disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.
The spike in cases has been driven partially by the spread of misinformation about vaccines and resulting skepticism about vaccinating children.
State Sen. Richard Pan, the author of the legislation, told the Bee that the bill “ensures that students who truly need a medical exemption receive an exemption.”
Several states renewed their focus on vaccine exemptions amid a series of measles outbreaks across the country. New York lawmakers earlier this month called to end nonmedical exemptions from vaccinations for school-aged children amid an ongoing measles outbreak.