Third Senate Panel Advances California Vaccine Bill After Amendment
On Tuesday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill (SB 277) that would end all personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle 4/28).
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; and
- Require schools to inform parents of immunization rates.
The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.
In addition, 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 Senate Education Committee passed the amended bill last week (California Healthline, 4/27).
Details of Judiciary Committee Vote
The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill after it was amended again, this time to limit application of the mandate to just the 10 vaccines currently required by the California Department of Public Health, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Under the amended bill, parents would be able to seek personal belief exemptions to any vaccines that DPH adds to requirements in the future.
The committee voted 5-1 to send the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee. State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) voted against the measure, while state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) was absent from the vote (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 4/28).
Comments During Hearing
During the hearing, New York University law scholar Mary Holland argued that the bill would undermine informed consent and discriminate against certain families. She said the bill "will be challenged in state and federal courts."
However, Allen said the bill was supported by legal precedent.
He said, "The courts have been clear. The state has a right to require vaccinations for attendance in school" (White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/28).
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), said the state government has a compelling interest to require vaccinations among schoolchildren.
Jackson said, "This bill ultimately is about the health and well-being of our children and what in the world is more important than that," adding, "It is our responsibility to protect the public health and safety" (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/28).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.