New law phases out the personal belief vaccine exemption to protect vulnerable students from vaccine-preventable diseases
SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, June 30, 2015) – California’s personal belief exemption for vaccines was eliminated today when Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277 in a move that will protect students at school who are unable to be vaccinated against vaccine-preventable conditions.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) served as the Assembly Principal Co-Author and Floor Manager for the Bill and applauded the decision today.
“As a mom, there's nothing more important to me than making sure our kids are kept safe – especially when we have the means to protect them from preventable diseases,” Gonzalez said. “As the Governor reminded us today, the science is clear that vaccines work, and removing the personal belief exemption with SB 277 is critical to fulfilling our responsibility to make sure all our students are kept as safe as possible.”
Current California law allows parents to opt their child out of school vaccination requirements that were implemented to protect students. SB277 deletes the personal belief exemption for children entering into state sponsored child care and public and private school. It allows children who have a personal belief exemption on file as of January 1, 2016 to continue enrollment until the child enrolls in the next grade span when a new immunization shot comes due. The bill exempts children who are enrolled in private home-based schools or public independent study off campus. It also clarifies that children with an individualized education plan (IEP) have access to any special education program related to their IEP regardless of immunization status.
SB 277 was clarified in the Senate to allow doctors to issue medical exemption from vaccines if the doctor finds that a child because of his or her own or family history makes it medically inappropriate to be administered a vaccine.
Authored in the Senate by Senators Ben Allen and Dr. Richard Pan, SB 277 has also been vetted and approved by the Senate Health, Education, and Judiciary Committees before receiving bipartisan approval from the full Senate. The bill has received official support from dozens of medical groups, education groups, cities, counties, school districts, public officials, organized labor, parent and student advocacy organizations, and children’s health advocates, as well as numerous doctors, nurses, other medical professionals and hundreds of individuals. SB 277 amendments added in the Assembly Health Committee include clarifying language that medical exemptions may be issued at the full discretion of a licensed physician and protecting access to services for special education students.