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Home » California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill–going strong

California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill–going strong

The California SB 277 vaccine exemption legislation, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children in schools in the state, continues to get overwhelming support from the legislature, and passed through one more step to becoming law.

According to several news reports, the California Assembly’s Health Committee approved the legislation in committee, by a 12-6 positive vote (with one exemption), late on 9 June 2015. The bill will now be sent to the full Assembly for a final vote, then back to the California Senate for final approval, and if both steps are successful, the bill will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for signing into law.

If the bill becomes law, California would join Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states that have strong pro-child vaccination laws. The legislation will still allow for exemptions to vaccination for children who have serious medical conditions that contraindicate the use of vaccines. Furthermore, the law would apply to elementary schools, secondary schools and day care centers.

The measure, SB 277 vaccine exemption bill, was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians, and it passed 25-10 after the two senators agreed earlier to compromises aimed at easing its passage.

Predictably, a crowd of passionate vaccine deniers took the opportunity to voice their opposition to the bill during the committee meeting and subsequent vote. One woman was removed from the committee hearing after shouting at lawmakers.

Equally passionate supporters of the bill dispelled misinformation about vaccines from the antivaccine crowd. For example, they dismissed claims that vaccines were no longer necessary because measles is no longer a threat–of course, that threat is minimal because of the success of vaccinations. And it is still a threat.


Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who has made a boatload of money pushing false information about vaccines, testified against the bill. Hysterically, he tried to dismiss the threat of the Disneyland measles outbreak by stating that those cases were not school-related, so this legislation was not necessary. Of course, his logic failed him when it was clear that the children who caught the measles during the outbreak would not have caught it if vaccinated.

This legislation has caused some heated rhetoric. In an attempt to employ Godwin’s Law early in the debate, California Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson (Fresno), likened the bill’s authors to Nazis when he compared keeping unvaccinated children at home to putting them in Nazi internment camps. I guess I’m at a loss as to how vaccines, who save lives, is comparable to Nazi concentration camps, which killed six million Jews.

When history denying lunatics like this make such an irresponsible and fallacious claim, you know deep down inside that they have no clue what actually happened to millions of innocent people during WWII. To be fair, the Holocaust denying Patterson did attempt to make a lame excuse for his comments on Twitter. Little late.

This is part of the anti-science hatred of vaccines that is part of the rhetoric of the antivaccine cult. They ignore everything that are facts–vaccines have saved millions of lives, they continue to save millions of lives, and adverse reactions are rare and almost always minor. And I have science supporting my statement, not logical fallacies and outright lies.

Good for the California Assembly. Just three more steps≠full Assembly approval followed by full Senate approval of the Assembly versions, and finally a signature from Governor Brown. Then California will join Mississippi and West Virginia as the most progressive states in the USA for protecting children from vaccine preventable diseases. My irony meter broke again.

Michael Simpson
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