he California SB 277 vaccine bill, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children in schools in the state, has passed it’s last hurdle in the California legislature and has been sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.
The SB 277 vaccine 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.
This makes California one of the three toughest states for vaccinations, along with Mississippi and West Virginia. Now, only valid medical exemptions, such as known allergies and other medical conditions, will be allowed an exemption to vaccination.
There continues to be some concern with Governor Brown’s views on vaccine exemptions. Two years ago he essentially gutted a bad law that made vaccine exemptions a bit harder to obtain by adding this language to his signing bill:
This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations – both the benefits and risks – for an individual child and the community. Whether these are simple “information exchanges” or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate.
I am signing AB 2109 and am directing the Department of Public Health to oversee this policy so parents are not overly burdened by its implementation. Additionally, I will direct the department to allow for a separate religious exemption on the form. In this way, people whose religious beliefs preclude vaccinations will not be required to seek a health care practitioner’s signature.
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June 26, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Brown,
I write to you today on behalf of our organization which was founded nearly twenty-five years ago by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers to ensure the timely immunization of all children. In the 1980’s these two ladies were instrumental in helping to pass the laws that exist in every state requiring school children to be fully vaccinated. In 1991, after an outbreak of measles that took the lives of too many children, they founded Every Child By Two.
As you can imagine, we were very distressed to witness the most recent measles outbreak that began in California and rapidly spread to 131 people here in the U.S. and more in neighboring countries as exposed park goers returned to their homes, carrying the virus with them. As of the end of May 2015 approximately 178 total cases of measles have been reported in seventeen U.S. states. This latest measles outbreak provides yet another reminder of the importance of timely vaccinations as most of the individuals infected with measles were intentionally unvaccinated. Sadly, some of those who became infected were children under a year old and therefore too young to be vaccinated against measles. As you are aware, measles is considered the “canary in the coal mine” as it is highly contagious. However we have far too many parents who come to ECBT after losing their children to diseases such as whooping cough, influenza and other deadly, but preventable diseases.
We are elated that the California legislature will pass SB277 into law, knowing that it will protect the lives of the school children of your state. As you know, for diseases such as measles, a 95% vaccination rate is required to protect the community. When in some areas up to 25% of parents are exempting their children from vaccines due to unfounded fears about safety, it leaves all school children vulnerable to dangerous diseases.
I can assure you that the majority of our 82,000 Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook followers are highly supportive of California’s efforts. In fact, our messaging regarding these efforts has received more views and shares than any other posts in recent years. We are encouraged that you will do the right thing by signing this critical bill.
Amy Pisani, Executive Director
Every Child By Two
Cc: Dr. Richard Pan, CA State Senator
Let’s hope I can post some good news about Governor Brown’s intentions in the next few hours or days.