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California Passes Bill to Eliminate Vaccine Exemptions

The Short of It

The California State Assembly passed SB 277 by a vote of 46-30, sending the bill that would require vaccinations for virtually all school-aged children back to the state Senate.

The Lowdown

SB 277 was introduced in the wake of the measles outbreak that started in December at Disneyland and infected 131 people. The bill is an attempt to ensure that immunity levels are high enough in a community to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases. The bill would eliminate both religious and philosophical exemptions from the state's mandatory vaccines, which are required for kids to go to school.

Despite parent protests, earlier this month the measure was approved by the Assembly health committee in a 12-6 vote. It was previously passed by the state Senate in May, but the bill now returns there for lawmakers to concur with amendments made in the Assembly, which clarify that physicians can determine when vaccination isn't medically appropriate. If it is once again passed by the legislature there, it will advance to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not taken a position.

If the bill is signed by the governor, the bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Parents could still obtain medical waivers from physicians if their children have health issues. If they choose not to vaccinate for any other reason, parents would have to homeschool their children or place them in independent study.

The Upshot

I say, hoorah! Vaccines are so important for the health of our children and our communities. There's no reason for any child to get sick from a preventable disease and possibly infect other kids. It's unfathomable to me why doctors can't change some parents' minds, despite proof that vaccines don't cause autism. Nice job, California. Everyone should get their kids vaccinated!

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