State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), center, discusses his proposed measure to have public health officials approve medical exemptions for vaccination instead of leaving the power to physicians, during a news conference, Tuesday, in Sacramento. (The Associated Press)
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Measles is an entirely preventable, sometimes deadly viral disease. Thanks to vaccination, measles could have been 19 years behind us. Now it’s four hours away.

As of Thursday, there were one confirmed case from Tehama County, four confirmed cases in Butte County, and three confirmed cases in Placer County.

Here in Humboldt County, we remain at risk. Our student vaccination rates are among the worst in the state.

As we reported earlier this week, according to the state Department of Public Health, the safest minimum rate of vaccination is 95%. Humboldt County’s rate has sunk below that threshold; only 88.4% of our kindergartners were vaccinated during the 2017-18 school year.

Hundreds of parents here have not vaccinated their children. By opting out, they’re endangering the health and liberty of the most vulnerable among us, who can’t be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons. Worse, internet hucksters and a few unscrupulous cannabis clinics are preying on parents’ fears and selling medical exemptions without so much as an in-person medical exam.

Thankfully, there’s an effort underway in Sacramento to tighten oversight over medical exemptions. Senate Bill 276 would help keep Humboldt County safe, clean and free from viral contagion.

We again call on the Legislature and Gov. Newsom to make these proposed safeguards law, before an entirely preventable, highly contagious viral disease infects our schools or claims another life.

You can track the progress of SB 276 here. For more information on measles, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html.

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