California governor signs mandatory vaccination bill
June 30, 2015
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that will require almost all schoolchildren in the state to be fully vaccinated, even if their parents object. [Mercury News]
Senate Bill 277 eliminates a provision in California law that exempted children from vaccinations on the grounds of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs. Now, California joins two other states — Mississippi and West Viriginia — in only permitting medical exemptions as reasons to sidestep vaccinations.
The new vaccination requirements apply at public and private schools across the state. Other than obtaining a medical exemption, homeschooling and independent off-campus studies are now the only ways for schoolchildren to avoid vaccinations.
“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in a statement released Tuesday. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
Opposition to the personal belief exemption increased after a measles outbreak began last December at Disneyland. State health officials declared the outbreak over in mid-April after confirming 136 measles cases in California.
SB 277 received widespread support from health and education organizations, including the California Medical Association, California State PTA, California Immunization Coalition and the California Children’s Hospital Association. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll indicated that two-thirds of Californians believe children should not be allowed to attend public schools unless they are vaccinated.
Vocal opponents rallied against the bill, arguing it violates parental rights and that some vaccines are dangerous to children. Opponents also said the bill will create a hardship on parents who must homeschool their children or place them in off-campus studies in order to avoid vaccinating them.