On Thursday, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 277, which would eliminate California parents’ ability to opt out of mandatory vaccines for their school children for reasons of “personal belief.”
The bill makes California the third state with no allowable personal or religious belief waiver, joining Mississippi and West Virginia.
Following heated battles through committee votes and scores of protestors expressing their strong positions, the bill skirted a final Appropriations Committee vote with amendments that allowed it to proceed to the floor.
The Appropriations Committee makeup could have led to trouble given the historical positions of each of its members on the issue, though votes cast in the floor vote indicate it would have passed the committee.
Should parents choose not to vaccinate their children for one or more diseases required, they will not be allowed to enroll that child in public or private school. Those children must be homeschooled or participate in independent study. One of the more contentious debates circled around this issue in the Education Committee.
Final floor votes came in with 25 Senators in support, 10 against and 4 with no vote recorded.
Celebrity Jenna Elfman showed up at the Capitol building in opposition to the bill, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. Elfman says she vaccinates her children, but opposes SB 277 on the basis of parental rights. “This is not the end,” she said.
SB 277 opponents plan to hold a protest Saturday at the California State Democratic Party Convention in Anaheim. Participants also plan to attend some of the convention events.
The bill now moves on for voting in the State Assembly.
“Ultimately, our goal is boosting vaccination rates,” said bill co-author Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), according to the Chronicle.
A crop of bills related to vaccinations required in schools and day cares appeared after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland last December. California Department of Public Health records indicate the strain came from outside the United States.
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