California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 276 into law. The controversial bill will allow the state government to investigate any physician that issues more than five medical exemptions for vaccines each year. It will also allow state officials to investigate schools that have less than a 95% vaccination rate.
The bill was co-sponsored by Vaccinate California, the American Academy of Pediatrics, California and the California Medical Association and was met with controversy from anti-vaccination activists. California is one of only a few states that no longer allows personal, philosophical or religious exemptions for school vaccinations. The only way to enroll a child in school without vaccines is to obtain a medical exemption. This new law ensures that those medical exemptions and the doctors that issue them will be thoroughly examined by California’s health department.
The law comes on the heels of increased concern throughout the nation about the importance of vaccines and the government’s ability to mandate them for school-age children. As Parentology reported earlier this month, the state of New York has mandated that all children be vaccinated. State intervention is believed to be a response to the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles and pertussis. According to a 1905 Supreme Court ruling, states are well within their rights.
The California law takes it one step further, focusing on the monitoring and regulation of medical exemptions. The legislation closes the loop on doctors that may have been providing exemptions to parents and children who opposed vaccination, but do not have a medical reason for abstaining. Many parents feel so strongly about their right to choose if their child is vaccinated that they will opt-out of the traditional school system. The state mandates children that attend schools be vaccinated, but children that are homeschooled would not fall under this regulation.
California is one of many states, including New York, Mississippi, West Virginia and Maine that’s tackling the issue of vaccination. While many of these states have already mandated vaccines, many more are looking into regulating the criteria for religious and philosophical exemption, making it more difficult for parents to simply “choose” not to vaccinate.