Personal Belief Exemption for Childhood Vaccination Gone in California

This week Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 277 which removes the personal belief exemption parents could use to exempt their children from vaccination requirements tied to public school attendance.  When the law becomes effective in 2016, California will become the third state, after Mississippi and West Virginia, to allow vaccination exemption for medical reasons only.  

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in his bill signing message. “While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

A Los Angeles Times article on the bill signing quoted parents opposed to the new legislation who said that many families may decide to home-school their children or move out of the state. The Times reported that the new law could impact more than 80,000 students who currently claim the personal belief exemption.

The legislative action in California followed a 2015 outbreak of measles traced to Disneyland vacations over the December 2014 holiday season.  Since Jan. 1, 2015, 121 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia are reported to have the measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eighty-five percent of these cases are linked to holiday visits to the California amusement park.

According to a CSG analysis of 2013-2014 school year data on state MMR vaccination rates, 26 states’ rates are below the CDC recommended rate of 95 percent.

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