California Childhood Vaccine Exemption Bill Heads to Assembly
On Thursday, the California Senate voted 25-10 to approve a bill (SB 277) that would end personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements in the state, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The bill now heads to the Assembly (Koseff, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/14).
SB 277, by state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach), would only allow children who have received vaccinations for certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to be admitted to schools in the state.
The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.
Pan and Allen proposed amendments to broaden the bill's exemption for home-schooled children after a state Senate Education Committee vote on the bill was delayed when opponents raised concerns about children missing out on an education if their parents refused to vaccinate them.
The amendments would allow unvaccinated children to:
- Enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family; and
- Participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time.
The bill also was amended to remove a provision that would have required schools to inform parents of immunization rates.
The change, which eliminated the costs associated with the bill, allowed the measure to bypass the state Senate Appropriations Committee and head straight for a full chamber vote after it was passed by the state Senate Education Committee (California Healthline, 5/12).
Details of Senate Vote
According to Reuters, the state Senate voted mostly along party lines to approve the bill after nearly an hour of debate (Bernstein, Reuters, 5/14).
Most Democrats supported the measure, while three Republicans also voted in favor it. Two Democrats voted against it.
Several Republicans attempted to stall the bill by adding amendments that would have:
- Reinstated religious exemptions; and
- Required labeling of vaccine ingredients.
However, supporters tabled each proposed amendment ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/14).
State Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said that eliminating religious exemptions "tells deeply devout families that the government thinks it knows better" (AP/Orange County Register, 5/14).
Meanwhile, members of the California Coalition for Health Choice -- which opposes the bill -- said they would increase efforts aimed at the Assembly to highlight the bill's negative effects among schools and how difficult it is to obtain medical exemptions ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.