June 26, 2015
1 min read

California Assembly passes mandatory vaccination bill

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The California Assembly has passed Senate Bill 277, legislation that eliminates the “personal belief” exemption and requires all schoolchildren to be vaccinated unless they are medically exempt, making it one of the strictest mandatory vaccination laws in the United States.

SB 277 — co-authored by Richard Pan, MD, a pediatrician and senator representing Sacramento and Sen. Ben Allen— passed by a vote of 46-30. It will now return to the state Senate for final approval before being submitted to Gov. Jerry Brown for his approval.

a photo of lorena gonzalez

Lorena Gonzalez

“As a mother, I understand that the decisions we make about our children’s health care are deeply personal, and I respect the fundamental right to make medical decisions as a family,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said in a press release. “However, none of us has the right to endanger others. SB 277 strikes the right balance of ensuring informed, thoughtful medical decisions between a family and their doctor and the rights of all our schoolchildren to attend school without fear of contracting a potentially fatal, vaccine-preventable disease.”

Under the proposed measure, children would require vaccination before entering kindergarten. Exemptions based on personal and religious objections would no longer be permitted; medical exemptions would remain valid.

“Years of anti-science, anti-vaccine misinformation have taken its toll on immunization rates to the point that the public is now endangered,” Pan said in a press release. “Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with cancer, organ transplants, and other conditions are counting on us to make sure science prevails.”

Parents who choose not to vaccinate will be required to home-school their children, participate in a multifamily private home school or use independent study programs administered by local education agencies.

If SB 277 is signed into law, California would become the 33rd state in which parents would be unable to use personal belief exemptions to opt out of vaccination requirements.