June 12, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Vaccination
Senate Bill 277 took another big step forward in the state legislature on Tuesday, passing in the Assembly Health Committee on a 12-6 vote.
“This bill is critical to the safety of our schools and communities and will help prevent future outbreaks of harmful, preventable diseases,” said Luther F. Cobb, M.D., president of the California Medical Association (CMA). “The benefits of vaccinations are clear and proven, and we applaud our representatives in the Assembly Health Committee who voted to improve public health.”
SB 277 would remove the personal belief exemption (PBE) from school vaccination requirements, allowing exemptions only for medical reasons The SB 277 immunization requirements would apply to students first admitted to school or who enter seventh grade after July 1, 2016. It would also help protect the most vulnerable, including babies too young to be immunized and people who are immunocompromised, by making it more difficult for preventable diseases to spread.
The bill’s supporters include CMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA); California State PTA; California Immunization Coalition (CIC); Vaccinate California; the California State Association of Counties (CSAC); and many other community groups, local governments, and health and education organizations.
The American Medical Association on Monday also announced that it supports stiffer limitations on non-medical vaccination exemptions — a goal of SB 277.
“SB 277 is about freedom — freedom from deadly, crippling contagions that are now preventable through the science of vaccination,” said Senator Richard Pan, M.D., a co-author of the bill.
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 at least 136 confirmed cases of measles across more than a dozen counties. Nearly 20 percent of those cases have required hospitalization. Efforts to contain the outbreak resulted in mandatory quarantines and the redirection of public health resources to investigations into exposure.
The bill will be heard next on the Assembly floor.