SACRAMENTO–Senate Bill 277, legislation to eliminate California’s personal belief exemption for vaccines and protect students at school who are unable to be vaccinated against vaccine-preventable conditions, was passed by the full Assembly today on a bipartisan 46-30 vote.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) served as the Assembly Principal Co-Author and Floor Manager for the Bill. The bill will now head to the Senate for its final approval of the bill’s Assembly amendments and then will be submitted to the Governor for signature.
“As a mother, I understand that the decisions we make about our children’s healthcare are deeply personal and I respect the fundamental right to make medical decisions as a family,” Gonzalez said. “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 school children to attend school without fear of contracting a potentially fatal, vaccine-preventable disease.”
Current California law allows parents to opt their child out of school vaccination requirements implemented to protect students. SB 277 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. 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 IEP have access to any special education program related to their IEP regardless of immunization status.
The bill still allows, and actually strengthens and clarifies the medical exemption from vaccines if a 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 today 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.