June 30, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health Vaccination
Sacramento – Despite three-digit temperatures, dozens of coalition partners came together to rally one last time for Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen). The bill passed out of the State Assembly on Thursday and cleared the final hurdle in the State Senate Monday. Governor Brown signed the bill today.
“This is a monumental day for Californians. Senate Bill 277 will help keep kids and communities safe and I thank Governor Brown and my colleagues in the State Legislature for their commitment to enacting this important law,” said Dr. Richard Pan, California State Senator and pediatrician.
SB 277 would eliminate the personal belief exemption from school vaccination requirements, barring parents from skipping their children’s school-required immunizations unless they have a medical exemption from a physician.
Under the law, vaccinations would be required of children first entering public school, or when they enter seventh grade after July 1, 2016. However, children who home-school or participate in independent study would not have to receive immunizations.
“I want to thank all of the parents, families and my colleagues and Governor Brown for their advocacy and thoughtful deliberation of this legislation. Today is a good day for California,” said Senator Ben Allen, a former president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
The “I Heart Immunity Campaign” was launched earlier this year and has grown to include organizations from every county in the state including health groups, parent advocates, local governments, school officials and more.
“Thousands of parents across the state unite today in thanking the State Legislature and Governor Brown for their support of Senate Bill 277. Today we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing our children and others will be better protected from preventable diseases,” said Leah Russin, mother and co-founder of Vaccinate California.
The bill was proposed following a recent rash of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in the state. Since December 2014, California has had at least 136 confirmed cases of measles across more than a dozen counties. Nearly 20 percent of those cases have required hospitalization.
“On behalf of the 40,000 members of the California Medical Association, I want to thank Senators Pan and Allen for their leadership in authoring this bill and the entire California State Legislature for sending it to Governor Brown,” said Richard Thorp, M.D., CMA Past President. “SB 277 is based in fact and science and will help increase community immunity across the state. This is sound public health and we hope Governor Brown’s swift signature on the bill shows how important it is for California. We applaud his fast action to keep Californians safe.”
Other groups in attendance at the press conference today included Kaiser Permanente, California Black Health Network, Children’s Hospital, First 5, March of Dimes, Secular Coalition, PTA, Silicon Valley Leadership, Children Here, and dozens of patients and parents.
For a full list of organizations supporting SB 277, visit www.vaccinatecalifornia.org.