Calif. Senator Tony Mendoza

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Governor Brown today signed SB 792 authored by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). The bill will protect California children in day care from contracting serious, potentially fatal diseases by requiring family day care home and day care center workers and volunteers to be vaccinated against measles, pertussis, and influenza. SB 792 will go into effect on January 1, 2016.

“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 792,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “With the deadly outbreaks of measles and influenza this year, we must do everything in our power to protect California’s children who spend time in day care.”

“If this new law can prevent the loss of even one child due to a communicable disease, then it will be considered a success. Because one child’s death is one too many, especially when it may be preventable,” added Mendoza.

As recently as the year 2000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had declared that measles was eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States. This was made possible due to a highly effective vaccination program and better measles control.

However, from December 28, 2014 to April 10, 2015, there have been 134 confirmed cases of measles in California according to the California Department of Public Health. The outbreak likely originated from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles and visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California while contagious. Additional cases emerged, including a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) passenger with measles who travelled from Millbrae to San Francisco, potentially exposing more than 1500 riders. For influenza, in 2013-2014, there were 404 confirmed deaths, including ten pediatric deaths of which three were under the age of five.

“Disease outbreaks of measles, once thought to have been eradicated in the United States, have resurfaced. As a consequence, public health officials have been sounding the alarm that more should be done to protect the most vulnerable populations such as children and seniors,” said Senator Mendoza.

SB 792 protects young, vulnerable children by requiring caregivers at day care centers and family day care homes to be immunized against influenza, pertussis, and measles. Currently, there are no immunization requirements for day care workers. The bill allows for circumstances under which a person would be exempt from the immunization requirement, based on medical safety, current immunity or declining the influenza vaccination.

“My bill will require all day care center and family day care home personnel and volunteers to be vaccinated. This is not just a common sense solution, but makes scientific sense,” added Senator Mendoza.

“The health officers want to thank Senator Mendoza for authoring this groundbreaking bill. It 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, MPH, Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California, the sponsors of the bill.

Children in day care settings have close, intimate contact with each other and with the staff who work there. Until they are fully vaccinated, children rely on those around them to maintain their immunizations to stop the spread of disease. Many of these children are too young to be fully immunized against potentially serious communicable diseases. Children are vaccinated against diseases according to a schedule determined by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

According to this schedule, children are immunized against measles at age 12 months and receive the first dose of vaccine against pertussis (whooping cough) at age two months, which takes multiple doses for immunity to be fully effective. Children may also receive the annual flu vaccine at six months of age. Some diseases, such as the flu, may cause only a relative inconvenience to most healthy adults. However, this same disease can require hospitalization and perhaps even be fatal for an infant or an individual with a suppressed immune system.

“Children under the age of five are one of the most vulnerable age groups for contracting infection and developing complications from these very serious diseases, so it is critical that we use all available methods to protect them,” said Senator Mendoza.

Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. For more information about Senator Mendoza visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.