Wednesday, July 8, 2015

California Passes Strict Child Vaccination Law

It's been a hard-fought and closely watched battle in California. But in the end, proponents of mandatory childhood vaccinations chalked up a victory over opponents of vaccinations. Last week Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 277, a bill that eliminates personal and religious beliefs as valid reasons for not having one's child vaccinated in order to attend school. Unvaccinated children can still be home-schooled of course, and the law still allows for medical exemptions for those few children who have a verifiable medical excuse for not being able to be vaccinated. But for all others, vaccinations will now be required to attend public schools.

As it moved through the legislative process, SB 277 was modified a bit from its original form in order to make it palatable to more legislators and ensure its passage. In the final approved version, children who were not vaccinated in kindergarten will not have to be vaccinated until the 7th grade, and 10th-graders who are not currently vaccinated will never need to be vaccinated. In other words, the full effect of the new law will be phased in over several years.

California joins just two other states (West Virginia and Mississippi) that currently do not allow exemptions from childhood vaccinations for either religious or personal beliefs. Currently, 47 states allow exemptions because of religious beliefs, and 20 states allow exemptions for personal, moral, or other reasons. However, a number of states are planning to make changes to their current laws. To view the situation in your state and to find out what legislative changes might be planned or in process, visit the page on that topic on the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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