April 22, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Vaccination
Sacramento – Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen) cleared the Senate Education Committee today with a 7-2 vote. The bill will now move on to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This is a huge step forward for public health and the safety of our schools and communities,” said Luther Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association president. “Vaccinations are a proven method to prevent many illnesses and SB 277 will ensure more kids are protected against these diseases.”
SB 277 will remove the Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) option from the school and child care enrollment requirements. It will also require schools to publically provide information about their immunization rates. Removing the PBE will help protect the most vulnerable, including babies too young to be immunized and people who are immunocompromised, from the risks associated with contracting these diseases. It will also protect the community at large from increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.
“The I Heart Immunity campaign joins dozens of education, health care and community groups in thanking the Senate Education Committee for passing this bill as well as Senators Pan and Allen for their leadership in authoring it,” said Catherine Flores-Martin, California Immunization Coalition Executive Director.
In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that measles had been eradicated in the United States. However, since December 2014, California has had 133 confirmed cases of measles across 13 counties. Twenty percent of those cases have required hospitalization. Efforts to contain the outbreak have resulted in mandatory quarantines and the redirection of public health resources to investigations into exposure.
“As a mom, I am so grateful for today's vote,” said Leah Russin a mother from Palo Alto who is advocating for passage of SB 277 to protect her 18 month son from vaccine-preventable diseases. “My son and his friends deserve to be protected from preventable disease at school.”
In recent weeks the Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and the Los Angeles Daily News have joined local governments and community organizations across the state in urging support for the bill. A full list of endorsements can be found at www.vaccinatecalifornia.org.
The bill was recently amended to provide a public school option and broaden home school options for families that choose not to vaccine.