California Senate Approves Bill That Would End Vaccine Opt-Out

Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) talks to reporters after the Senate approved a bill he co-authored. It would require virtually all children to be vaccinated. (Pauline Bartolone/Capital Public Radio)

The state Senate has passed a bill that would require virtually all California schoolchildren to be vaccinated.

SB277 would end the “personal belief exemption” that allows parents to opt out of vaccines on behalf of their children and send their kids to school with some vaccinations or none at all. The Senate voted 25-10, mostly on partisan lines, after a long debate Thursday morning.

The bill’s co-author, Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), introduced the bill in the wake of a measles outbreak earlier this year that started at Disneyland.

While statewide vaccination rates are high — over 90 percent — some communities have high rates of children with a personal belief exemption on file with their school districts. In some schools, the rate of personal belief exemptions can be 50 percent or much higher.

“When you have pockets of low vaccination,” Pan said, “we need to do more to protect our communities. … This is a matter of public safety.”

Several sets of amendments to the bill — including a religious exemption and a requirement to disclose vaccine ingredients — were introduced and then tabled after votes by the full Senate.

“Getting a religious exemption is not unreasonable,” said Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego. “Don’t get caught up with zeal. … You can gain more with honey than you can with vinegar.”

But Pan said that he had not received any letters from mainstream religious organizations opposing the bill. He and SB277 co-author Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) have “had our own conversations with religious leaders, including the Catholic Church, and they do not oppose vaccination or this bill,” he said.

A religious exemption could become an issue with Gov. Jerry Brown, who added a religious exemption in 2012 when he signed into law another Pan vaccine bill — AB2109, which required those wanting a personal belief exemption to first meet with a health care provider.

Pan said he was open to talking with the governor about a religious exemption, but said he had not heard from Brown’s office.

If Pan’s bill becomes law, California would become only the third state without both a religious and personal exemption to vaccines. It would mean that children not fully vaccinated against 10 specified diseases could only be home-schooled. The bill applies to all students in public, private and parochial schools.

Children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons would be able to obtain an exemption. This includes children being treated for cancer or those with a compromised immune system.

The bill heads next to the Assembly.

California Senate Approves Bill That Would End Vaccine Opt-Out 3 June,2015Lisa Aliferis

  • microlith

    “Getting a religious exemption is not unreasonable,” said Sen. Joel
    Anderson, R-San Diego.

    Yes it is. Disease does not respect religion, and religion has no credibility in the medical space.

    “Don’t get caught up with zeal. … You can gain
    more with honey than you can with vinegar.”

    There’s no reason to defer to superstitious beliefs, certainly not when disease won’t respect them either. Paying lip service to something that doesn’t deserve it is simply a fool’s errand.

  • Kurt thialfad

    What about these unaccompanied minors from Central America who were just thrown into our schools. Isn’t this irresposible, and a threat to public health?

  • Victoria

    Thus bill, comng as it does so soon after the measles outbreak at Disneyland, reminds me of the Patriot Act coming so soon after 9/11. This Act has been found to be problematic in many respects.

    The Democrats, in a Democratic state, are subject to mass hysterical group think — banding together against the Republicans.
    Just as the dumping of massive amounts of Commercial-grade fluoride into our water supply WITHOUT ANY STUDIES BEING DONE TO FIND OUT HOW FLUORIDE IN OUR DRINKING WATER AFFECTS PEOPLE ‘S BODIES
    But fluoride was OKED be cause 1) the extremely conservative John Birch Society was against it and, 2) The aluminum companies — which had no other way to dispose of fluoride, which is a byproduct of the making of aluminum , and likely the aluminum companies sent high – paid lobbyists to Sacramento and contributed to politicians’ campaigns. NO Studies have ever been shown to study the connections between fluoride in ALL our drinking water and the higher rise in multiple illnesses, in recent years, diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, etc. How do we know there isn’t a connection?

    Democrats (I am a Democrat) have been under the influence of a mass hysteria when it comes to forcing all children to get vaccinated (with ten!?) different vaccines.

    Each vaccine — and drug — taken into the body is an EXPERIMENT. Just because labels on bottles state that ‘this is safe!’ and some doctors ignorantly do also,; doesn’t mean it is safe. A given body may have a bad reaction, a given batch of drugs, percentage-wise, will have a glitch in the factory makeup.
    Multiple vaccines, given at a time, have a toxic form of mercury in them, as a preservative; individual vaccines do not, and, as well, don’t put nearly as much stress on a child’s body, don’t give the body enough time to adapt to the vaccine.

    Politicians, I think, are pandering, bunching together to promote forcing children to have toxic vaccines put into their bodies — or can have no schools to go to.

    This is shameful.
    It is far too close to the Disneyland epidemic. These bills should wait at least a year, study it some more, and modify the bills.
    There was an amendment to force vaccine companies to list all the ingredients on the vaccine labels — but it WAS VOTED DOWN. Why? Let’s look at the campaign donations to politicians from vaccine companies!

    Forcing anyone to get their bodies invaded by toxic vaccines should be banned. Richard Pan in Sacramento and Loni Hancock in Berkeley should know better.


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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