California’s Governor Jerry Brown, signed SB277 into law on June 30, 2015.
SB 277 repeals the Personal Belief Exemption for vaccination that California had in place since the 1960s. SB 277 was introduced to the California Legislature in February of 2015. For four months the Capitol Building in Sacramento was filled with passionate parents, educators, doctors and others who were opposed to vaccine mandates for a classroom education. Several heated hearings surrounding SB 277 were held in the Senate and the Assembly. In the end, concerns from those opposed to this bill were disregarded. SB 277 became a law.
The following are a collection of articles to help understand the history and implications of SB 277 for school-aged children in California.
June 18, 2015 – Sacramento Bee
Did the millions of dollars donated by pharmaceutical companies in the 2013-14 legislative year have anything to do with the introduction of SB 277 in 2015?
Leading pharmaceutical companies also spent nearly $3 million more during the 2013-2014 legislative session lobbying the Legislature, the governor, the state pharmacists’ board and other agencies, according to state filings.
June 26, 2015 – Los Angeles Times
The California Constitution guarantees children the right to a public education. SB 277 appears to be in opposition to that fundamental right. Several legislators including Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) were concerned that SB 277 is unconstitutional.
Who is arguing that such a law is not constitutional?
One person doing so is Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Glendale. He accused the state of “infringing on the rights of certain students to attend school.”
What’s the constitutional argument based on?
There is a state constitutional right to a public education.
June 30, 2015 – New York Times
LOS ANGELES — California on Tuesday became the largest state in the country to require schoolchildren to receive vaccinations unless there are medical reasons not to do so, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that ended exemptions for personal or religious reasons.
“Any time a constitutionally guaranteed right is threatened with being taken away, the legislative default position should be, ‘Hey, let’s be careful on this,’ ” Quintana said. “In this case the legislative leadership’s position was ‘full speed ahead’ … I think the way that was handled was shameful.”
July 7, 2015 – USA Today
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) opines in USA Today that SB 277 is “Too broad to be constitutional.”
Consider the following examples. There are 1.2 million Americans with HIV and 178 this year with the measles. Just as vaccines slow or halt the spread of measles, prophylactics slow or halt HIV. But could the government mandate that everyone use condoms to stop the spread of HIV? Of course not. Such intimate decisions are not for government to make.
July 2, 2015
It’s not often that the ACLU finds problems with legislation put forth by the Democratic party, but that is what happened with SB 277.
Kevin Baker, legislative director for the ACLU of California, said the problem is that the state Constitution lists a public school education as a fundamental right. The ACLU was neutral on the bill.
“Safe schools are important, and immunization is a valuable protection against outbreaks of infectious diseases,” Mr. Baker said in an April statement. “At the same time, we need to proceed with great caution on any proposed law that deprives kids of their fundamental right to education by banning them from classrooms.”
January 6, 2016 – EdSource
SB 277’s Special Education Amendment has been interpreted in contradictory ways in neighboring counties. The Los Angeles Unified School District will not be requiring the vaccinations listed in SB 277 for special education students while the Orange County Department of Education will require vaccines for their special education students.
“We are not holding anyone to vaccination requirements that would interfere with access to special education programs,” Uyeda said. The decision was based on advice from district legal counsel, she said. The district serves about 73,000 special education students, but only “a very small number” are not fully vaccinated, she said.
2016 – Immunity Education Group
A complete analysis of SB 277 and what the law means in real terms.
“SB 277 is a new California law which will go into effect July 1, 2016. Like AB 2109, passed in 2014, it will require all doses of 10 vaccines for all children enrolled in a public or private daycare, preschool, elementary school, junior high, or high school (35 total doses by Kindergarten). However, what SB277 has done is eliminate religious and philosophical (personal belief) exemptions to vaccination for any child, any dose, throughout the state. After July 01, 2016, only medical exemptions will be accepted for a child to attend school.”