According to a report from CBS San Francisco, a California state law has been introduced that will eliminate the “personal belief” exemption from the state’s already-existing vaccination law.
If you are a parent who refuses to vaccinate your child, there are currently two ways to go about that legally: one is for medical reasons, and the other is if you have a personal belief system that opposes vaccination. If the new law is passed, the medical exemption will stay in place but the personal belief exemption will be eradicated.
From CBS SF:
The lawmaker who authored the bill is State Senator Richard Pan, who is also a doctor. He’s concerned about the outbreak of measles in California since December and the high numbers of people opting out of vaccines using the personal belief exemption.
The law as it is written so far does not have any religious exemption. And one might not be required. According to a 1944 U.S. Supreme Court case, “the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.” In fact, West Virginia and Mississippi do not have religious exemptions.
Technically, if parents still insist on not vaccinating, they can simply homeschool their kids if the personal belief exemption goes away. But analysts agree that those numbers would be likely be small – although not insignificant.
The bill has 26 sponsors, mostly Democrats, but 2 Republicans have also signed on, which makes it likely to pass. With the recent measles and whooping cough outbreaks in California – mostly in affluent communities – politicians can’t afford to punt on the issue anymore from a political standpoint.
In recent months, there has been an uproar of pro-vaccine voters demanding higher rates of vaccination [and politicians] are paying attention. It’s not just California, either – lawmakers in Washington and Oregon are considering closing some vaccine exemptions as well.
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