State Senate Passes, Brown Signs Mandatory Vaccine Bill
On Monday the California State Senate passed SB 277, a bill that requires parents to vaccinate their children as a condition to enroll in public schools. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill, making California one of the toughest states in the nation with regard to childhood immunizations.
The bill removed a personal belief exemption from the State’s requirement that children receive certain vaccines before being admitted to public or private elementary schools, secondary schools or day care centers. The bill was written largely in response to a measles outbreak that began at the Disneyland Resort in December of last year. More than 130 cases of measles were linked to that outbreak.
“SB 277 has occasioned widespread interest and controversy – with both proponents and opponents expressing their positions with eloquence and sincerity,” Brown said in a message to lawmakers. “After carefully reviewing the materials and arguments that have been presented, I have decided to sign this bill.
“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infections and dangerous diseases. While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
State Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) is the author of SB 277 and is a pediatrician.
“Years of anti-science, anti-vaccine misinformation have taken its toll on immunization rates to the point that the public is now endanger (sic),” Pan said in a June 9 press release. “Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with cancer, organ transplants, and other conditions are counting on us to make sure science prevails.”
In 2012, Pan authored a bill in the Assembly, AB 2109, that was intended to increase vaccination rates. When Gov. Brown signed that bill, he directed the Department of Health to allow for religious exemptions.
Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) had called on Brown to veto the bill, writing in a letter that the bill was an “unwarranted insertion of government into an area that has rightly been the domain of parents.
“The sweeping nature of SB 277 is all the more problematic when one considers the actual magnitude of the recent measles outbreak that spawned the bill,” wrote Senator Huff in his veto request to the Governor. “In a state of nearly 39 million people, only 131 measles cases are likely linked to this outbreak. This can hardly be considered a breakdown of ‘herd immunity.’”
State Senator Mike Morrell (R-Ranch Cucamonga), who represents Yucaipa, voted no on the bill.
Opponents of SB 277 are likely to challenge the law in court.