California Set To Ban Personal Belief Exemption For Vaccines

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A bill that will eliminate the personal and religious belief exemptions for vaccinations has passed the California State Assembly.

California currently has a personal belief exemption where parents can opt-out of having their children vaccinated if it is against their personal and/or religious beliefs.

Under the new legislation, called SB277, should parents decide to not vaccinate their children they will not be allowed to attend public schools or day cares in the state. They would still be allowed to attend private schools, reports Motherboard, or be home-schooled.

The only exception to this rule would be a medical waiver. However, kids with special needs will be guaranteed resources even if they aren't in public schools because of the vaccination requirement.

The California State Assembly, also referred to as the California House, approved the measure 46 to 30.

There are ten vaccines that will be required of school-aged children in California under the new law, including measles, mumps, and rubella.

The call for vaccine requirements in California stems from a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland last year and spread across multiple states and into Mexico, Motherboard reports.

“This past year we saw a small snapshot of what can happen when our community or herd immunity starts to drop,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. “It’s essential to have a critical mass of people immunized if we want to achieve herd immunity, which protects those who can’t be vaccinated, like the 12 babies who contracted measles in California during the outbreak because they were too young to be vaccinated.

“What happens next time? Do we wait until we have a full-fledged crisis to protect our most vulnerable?” Gonzalez added.

Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto, however, is concerned the bill causes too much government interference in parents’ rights to raise their children as they choose. He also is unsure of the law's impact because it only applies to public schools.

“[Unvaccinated children] are still free to play football with other kids, to mingle with them at church,” Gatto said.

Californians for Vaccine Choice are strongly against the measure, stating it “would eliminate a parent's right to exempt their children from one, some, or all vaccines, a risk-laden medical procedure."

"If SB 277 is approved by the Assembly and Governor Brown signs it, California parents will be forced to give their children more than 40 doses of 10 federally recommended vaccines or homeschool unless they can find a doctor to write a medical exemption that doctors deny to 99.99 percent of children under federal guidelines," the group said.

Democratic Sen. Richard Pan from California, a pediatrician, co-sponsored the legislation. He said the bill will close a “vaccine exemption loophole.”

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

The California Senate approved the bill earlier this month, but now must approve amendments made in the House, CNN repots. Should it pass the Senate again, it will advance to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. 

Sources: Motherboard, CNN

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