Legislation would require daycare workers to be vaccinated

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Health Committee last week approved SB 792, legislation authored by state Sen. Tony Mendoza that would require daycare workers to be vaccinated against measles, pertussis and influenza, among other diseases. 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 February 20, 2015, there have been 117 confirmed cases of measles in California according to the CDC. The outbreak likely originated from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles and visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California while contagious. Since that time, 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.

“One child’s death is one too many, especially when it may be preventable. With the recent deadly outbreaks of measles and influenza, we must do everything in our power to protect California’s children who spend time in day care,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “SB 792 will require all day care center and day care home personnel to be vaccinated. This is not just a common sense solution, but makes scientific sense,” added Mendoza.

“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 pre-school and day care workers to be immunized against influenza, pertussis, and measles among others. The bill will also specify that these workers must comply with the broader recommendations for adult immunizations by the Federal Centers for Disease’s Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Currently, there are no immunization requirements for day care workers.

“The health officers want to thank Senator Mendoza for introducing this groundbreaking bill,” said Kat DeBurgh, MPH, Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California, the sponsors of the bill. “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.”

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 a posted 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 Mendoza.

 

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Published: April 23, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 02