By Jane Meredith Adams
Update: Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday the bill eliminating the personal belief exemption for vaccinating schoolchildren. In his signing message, Brown wrote, “The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases.”
He continued, “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
In the pockets of California where hundreds and even thousands of kindergartners are not fully vaccinated, school districts are starting to think seriously about how a proposed law requiring vaccinations – which the Legislature approved Thursday – could affect their enrollment and in turn, their funding.
The proposed law, Senate Bill 277, would end the state’s personal belief exemption for vaccinating schoolchildren, an opt-out practice that in a small number of schools and communities has become widespread. More than 13,500 California schoolchildren held a personal belief exemption in 2014-15, a relatively low number compared to the state’s overall kindergarten enrollment of more than 500,000, but a figure of public health and financial importance in some districts.