Actress Jessica Biel wants to set the record straight: she says she is not against vaccinating children, but she wants families and doctors to be able to make the decision.
Biel met with California legislators this week about Senate Bill 276, which would create a statewide standardized medical exemption request form requiring a state public health official to approve or deny medical exemption request for vaccines.
She also met with activist and vaccination skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an opponent of the bill, who thanked her for her efforts.
"Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House," Kennedy said in an Instagram post showing him with Biel.
That led to some immediate reaction, with some people and news outlets suggesting Biel was an "anti-vaxxer."
Biel responded on Instagram Thursday morning, saying she is not against vaccines but stressing that families and doctors should have a say.
"I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB277 is solely regarding medical exemptions," Biel said, incorrectly stating the bill number.
"My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state," she continued.
"That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment," Biel said.
California parents currently can file a doctor statement that explains how an immunization puts a child at risk. Then that child is exempt from getting the vaccine or vaccines. SB276 would change all of that.
If the bill passes, doctors would only fill out the form and send it to health officials, who then will either approve or deny the request.
Supporters say the bill is needed because some doctors have taken advantage of the way exemptions are done right now.
Opponents say the bill would destroy the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, and would increase vaccine injuries in children.
The bill follows a recent rise in cases of measles, mumps and other infectious diseases nationwide.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.