By Ed Diokno
As a pediatrician, Dr. Richard Pan has made a career caring for children. As a California state senator, he used his political position to ensure that children have the best chance to stay healthy by authoring a bill requiring vaccinations for the state’s school children.
For his efforts, opponents of Pan’s bill launched a recall petition against him. His critics believed vaccines were unsafe and the law infringed on their parental rights.
Sen. Pan got a strong vote of confidence from the constituents of Senate District 6 which includes most of Sacramento, when critics were not able to get enough signatures for their recall petition.
Pan, called the petition’s failure a “victory of science over the politics of fear and intimidation” and called his opponents “anti-vaccination zealots” who “used fear, intimidation and discredited information to try to defeat our bill.”
“Vaccines are safe, and vaccines work,” said Pan, who was one of the few politicians brave enough to stand up against the vocal and emotional arguments voiced by the anti-vaccination critics. “Vaccinations prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.
For his leadership on the vaccination law, Time magazine called the Sacramento legislator a “hero” in an article about the vaccine debate.
“Pan was the lead sponsor of the recently enacted Senate Bill 277, designed to raise California’s falling vaccine rate by eliminating the religious and personal belief exemptions that many parents use to sidestep the responsibility for vaccinating their children,” wrote Time.
The new law, which will take effect July 1, 2016, protects every child’s right to be safe at school by preventing preventable contagions from spreading at school and in the community.
(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)