April 16, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health Vaccination
A vote on Senate Bill 277 (Pan, D-Sacramento) was delayed in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, giving the bill’s authors time to respond to questions posed by committee members.
SB 277 would remove the personal belief exemption (PBE) from school vaccination requirements, allowing only medical exemptions. However, it would also allow families who home-school to be exempted from the requirements.
“Our school children deserve to be safe and healthy and have an education that values science,” said Jay Hansen, vice president of the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education and member of the California School Boards Association, at the hearing. “This bill is another step in that direction and makes the right choice and honors the right science.”
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 134 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.
AB 2109, also authored by Senator Pan and passed in 2012, sought to ensure that families were not using the PBE solely out of convenience or based on misinformation about vaccine efficacy or safety. Though that legislation resulted last year in the first decrease in PBE use in a decade, the measles outbreak earlier this year underscored the need to do more.
The Senate Education Committee is expected to revisit SB 277 on Wednesday, April 22. Please contact your legislator today to urge their support of SB 277 to help keep our kids, school and communities safe and healthy.
CMA joins dozens of other organizations that have endorsed SB 277, including the California School Boards Association, San Francisco Unified School District, American Lung Association, County of Los Angeles, American Nurses Association, Sacramento Bee and California School Employees Association, among others.
Many of these groups have come together to form the I Heart Immunity Campaign to educate the public about the safety and effectiveness of increased immunization rates. For a full list of groups that have endorsed SB 277, visit www.vaccinatecalifornia.org.