California Bill to Eliminate Personal Belief Vaccine Exemptions



Image credit:  Clusters of under-immunization in Northern California.

Only two months into 2015, there are already 170 reported cases of measles across the U.S., the majority (113) occurring in California.  The majority of those infected were unvaccinated.  The number of cases of pertussis or whooping cough has also increased over the last several years.   In California, the ability for parents to claim personal belief exemptions (PBE) against vaccines allows unvaccinated children to attend schools despite their record of having no immunizations or being underimmunized.   A recent study analyzing data from Kaiser Permanente health centers in Northern California from 2010-2012, shows that under-immunized children form geographic clusters with vaccine refusal rates up to 13.5%.  These areas of high vaccine refusal pose health risks not just for those with PBE, but to others in the community who cannot be vaccinated for: medical reasons, because of their age (under 12 months), or the small percentage of people who have received the vaccine, but did not acquire lasting immunity.  Schools in these areas are especially susceptible to outbreaks.

California state senators Pan and Allen have introduced a bill, Senate Bill 277 that would remove the PBE clause from current legislature and require all children (except for those with medical exemptions) to be immunized in order to attend school.   This bill is an important step toward increasing the rate of vaccination amongst California’s youth to ensure that herd immunity is maintained in all areas (~90% immunization) and that children are not unnecessarily endangered by others in their communities.  It is critical for Californians to voice their support of this bill and encourage their state senators and Governor Jerry Brown to pass this bill.  You can find your California state representatives here.  Do not let a vocal minority overshadow those who support this bill. Help support this bill.


2 Responses to “California Bill to Eliminate Personal Belief Vaccine Exemptions”

  1. cdhpryor Says:

    I saw in the news that this bill was being proposed and I think it is absolutely critical at this juncture in the debate on vaccines. Educated people continue to be ill-informed and/or unwilling to listen to the scientific truth in regards to vaccines and something must be done to ensure the health and safety of the children in the United States. It continues to shock me that this debate has gained such ground, when the basis of the argument tying autism to vaccines was rooted in a faulty Lancet article, which has been recalled and refuted by an insurmountable amount of case studies that show no tie between autism and vaccinations. I hope that the term “herd immunity” becomes a household term and that the families that are currently not vaccinating their children educate themselves properly on the actual risks and consequences of not vaccinating.

    Very well written, poignant blog post!

  2. aarontustin2 Says:

    Good post. The ethics of mandatory vaccinations is an interesting topic. Vaccines are a potentially life-saving medical intervention and therefore could be compared to other life-saving treatments such as blood transfusions. U.S. legal precedent (“parens patriae”) says that children cannot be denied necessary medical care because of their parents’ beliefs. One could argue, therefore, that courts should have the authority to force children to be vaccinated against their parents’ wishes. On the other hand, since vaccinations are not generally given to treat an emergency situation, it could be argued that vaccines are not legally protected in the same way that transfusions are. It will be interesting to see how the California legislature and courts decide this issue.

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