May 14, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Vaccination
Sacramento – Senate Bill 277 (Pan/Allen) hit a major milestone in its journey through the state legislature today, passing through the Senate with overwhelming support. The bill moved forward with 25 votes. The California Medical Association (CMA) is part of a large coalition of health advocates, education organizations, community groups, local governments and elected leaders across the state that have shown support for the bill. SB 277 now advances to the Assembly for further consideration.
“SB 277 would protect our children and our communities from the harmful effects of preventable diseases,” saod CMA President Luther F. Cobb, M.D. “On behalf of CMA’s 40,000 members, I would like to thank Senators Dr. Pan and Allen for their leadership in authoring the bill, as well as members of the Senate who helped move this important bill forward. This is a big step toward improving the public health of schools and communities across the state.”
SB 277 would remove the personal belief exemption (PBE) from school vaccination requirements, allowing exemptions only for medical reasons. It would require immunizations of children who first enter a new school system, with checks at kindergarten and seventh grade. 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 had passed through three policy committees before its most recent approval on the Senate floor.
In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that measles had been eradicated in the United States. However, since December 2014, California has had 136 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.
“Vaccines are necessary to protect us,” Senator Richard Pan, M.D. said, “but that protection has been eroding.”
CMA recently joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAPCA); California Immunization Coalition (CIC); Vaccinate California; and Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) recently to launch the I Heart Immunity Campaign supporting the bill. Other organizations and businesses who have also endorsed SB 277 include the California School Nurses Association, California School Board Association, American Lung Association and several local governments.