Gov. Brown signs controversial school vaccine bill

Opponents of a measure requiring nearly all California school children to be vaccinated gathered on the west steps of the Capitol after lawmakers approved the bill, in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, June 25, 2015. The bill, SB277 co-authored by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento and Ben Allen D-Santa Monica was approved by the Assembly. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)


SACRAMENTO (KRON/AP) — Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a controversial vaccine bill Tuesday that will impose one of the strictest school immunizations laws in the country.

The bill requires mandatory vaccinations for most children in public schools, in a move to end exemptions from state vaccine laws based on religious or other personal beliefs.

In a statement from Governor Brown he states, “The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases” he said, “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

The Senate approved the legislation on a 24-14 vote.

California now joins Mississippi and West Virginia with such strict vaccine requirements in place.

The legislation allows children with physician-confirmed medical conditions such as allergies and immune-system deficiencies to be excused from immunization.

A spokesman for Gov. Brown last week stopped short of saying that the governor would sign the bill. Spokesman Evan Westrup said that the governor believes that vaccinations are a major health benefit and that the bill would be “closely considered.”

Senate Bill 277 has faced heated opposition from parents who have held large protests at the Capitol in recent weeks. Both legislative Republicans and some Democrats have come to their defense, asserting that the state is eliminating informed consent and trampling on parental rights.

Despite fervent pushback, the bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly with bipartisan support.

The Senate on Monday voted on changes made to the bill in the Assembly that make it easier to obtain medical exemptions. The amendment would allow doctors to use a family’s medical history as an evaluating factor.

The bill authors also agreed to establish a grandfather clause, allowing students who currently claim a personal belief exemption to maintain it until their next vaccine checkpoint.

The bill was introduced following an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people.

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