SACRAMENTO, Calif.- The Senate Health Committee approved tougher vaccination rules Wednesday, despite hearing hours of testimony from opponents.
This proposal gives state public health officials the power to decide which children can skip their shots before attending school, instead of local doctors.
Committee members decided stronger oversight is needed to prevent unnecessary exemptions sometimes granted by doctors who are paid to excuse students.
Supporters say unvaccinated students are helping spread the highly contagious disease within the state and elsewhere.
The bill was backed by dozens of medical professionals.
The number of cases in the U.S. has skyrocketed to its highest level since 1994, with a total of nearly 700 cases according to the Center for Disease Control.
In the Northstate, officials say low vaccination levels have caused worry that the virus could spread to more vulnerable populations.
Vaccination levels in Shasta County are at just 93 percent, which is under the base-line of what is considered good "community immunity," 95 percent.
In Butte County, the level of vaccination is just above the base-line, at 96 percent.