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SB 277 – Vaccine Choice

By July 7, 2015December 10th, 2020Faith & Learning

On Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Governor Brown signed into law a bill designed to require that California schoolchildren are fully vaccinated, regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs.  The bill applies to children enrolled in public or private day care, public school districts, and private schools.  The law takes effect January 1, 2016, but its provisions will not be implemented until July 1, 2016.

Existing Law

Currently, public schools are prohibited from admitting children who are unvaccinated against specific diseases unless they are exempt for medical reasons or personal beliefs of their parents.  For an exemption to take effect, parents must receive information from a health care provider about the benefits and risks of immunizations and sign an affidavit attesting to their personal beliefs.  The form and affidavit provided by the California Department of Public Health may be accessed HERE

New Law

SB 277 largely eliminates the religious and personal beliefs exemptions.  California now becomes only the third state (along with Mississippi and West Virginia) that does not allow a religious exemption.  It is one of 32 states that do not allow some type of philosophic exemption.  To address concerns about student’s access to education, which in California is a constitutional right, the bill exempts pupils in a home-based private school and students enrolled in an independent study program who do not receive classroom-based instruction.  The new law also does not prohibit a student who qualifies for an individualized education program (“IEP”) from accessing special education and related services required by his or her IEP.  It also provides a limited exception for children who, prior to January 1, 2016, submitted a valid personal belief affidavit.  Those students may continue attending public or private school until, beginning July 1, 2016, they have enrolled in the next “grade span.”

Read more and review some helpful Q&A's HERE.


Author CJ Halloran

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