Yesterday, California’s Assembly approved a bill that “imposes one of the strictest vaccination standards in the nation.” The bill eliminates personal or religious beliefs as viable exemptions to mandatory vaccination; only children with documented medical conditions such as severe allergy or immune compromise will be exempt. Children who are not vaccinated will have to be home schooled. The bill was in part a reaction to the Disneyland-related measles outbreak in Southern California last winter.

SB-277 reads, in pertinent part:

120335. (a) As used in this chapter, “governing authority” means the governing board of each school district or the authority of each other private or public institution responsible for the operation and control of the institution or the principal or administrator of each school or institution.
(b) The governing authority shall not unconditionally admit any person as a pupil of any private or public elementary or secondary school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center, unless, prior to his or her first admission to that institution, he or she has been fully immunized. The following are the diseases for which immunizations shall be documented:

(1) Diphtheria.
(2) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(3) Measles.
(4) Mumps.
(5) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(6) Poliomyelitis.
(7) Rubella.
(8) Tetanus.
(9) Hepatitis B.
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).

(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), full immunization against hepatitis B shall not be a condition by which the governing authority shall admit or advance any pupil to the 7th grade level of any private or public elementary or secondary school.

(d) The governing authority shall not unconditionally admit or advance any pupil to the 7th grade level of any private or public elementary or secondary school unless the pupil has been fully immunized against pertussis, including all pertussis boosters appropriate for the pupil’s age.

(e) The department may specify the immunizing agents that may be utilized and the manner in which immunizations are administered.

(f) This section does not apply to a pupil in a home-based private school or a pupil who is enrolled in an independent study program pursuant to Article 5.5 (commencing with Section 51745) of Chapter 5 of Part 28 of the Education Code and does not receive classroom-based instruction.

Opposition to this bill has been fierce, with both Democrats and Republicans speaking “against the loss of parental autonomy.” According to the Orange County Register, two lawmakers are now targeted for recall, and one lawmaker in Santa Cruz, an area with a high number of parents seeking exemptions, has had to shut down a district office due to safety concerns.

California Assembly approves stricter vaccine bill for schoolchildren

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Sanofi Pasteur on flickr.