Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SB277 Signed! Congratulations, California!

June 30, 2015 - A happy day for California children!
This is just a very brief post to celebrate the triumph of science and public health over the fear and lies of the anti-vaccine movement. On June 30, 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB277 into law. As I mentioned briefly before, SB277 ensures that only medical exemptions will be allowed for school immunization requirements. California has joined Mississippi and West Virginia as the only three states in the country that put children's health above misguided personal and superstitious beliefs.

In his signing statement (PDF), Gov. Brown noted the importance of vaccines and the science that supports their use:
The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases. While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community...

...Thus, SB277, while requiring that school children be vaccinated, explicitly provides an exception when a physician believes that circumstances - in the judgement and sound discretion of the physician - so warrant.
My thanks go out to Senators Pan and Allen for shepherding this bill through the California legislature, to all of the senators and assembly members who voted for this bill, the parents and activists who supported their efforts, and Gov. Brown for signing it. You have all done an amazing thing to protect the health of California's most vulnerable population.

[Edited to Add: While this bill will, in the long run, help to protect California children from infectious disease outbreaks, we won't see an effect immediately. The way the bill is worded, any personal belief exemption for a child filed before January 1, 2016 will be honored until the child reaches the next grade span, i.e.:
  1. Birth to preschool;
  2. Kindergarten to 6th grade; and
  3. 7th-12th grade
This means that it could be as late as 2021 or 2022 before we see the full impact of this new law, in terms of increasing vaccination uptake among schoolchildren.

During this period, we may also start to see an increase in medical exemptions being filed, primarily by anti-vaccine-sympathetic doctors like Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon. Hopefully, the state medical board will keep tabs on this to ensure that only valid medical exemptions are being filed.]

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