California May Outlaw Personal and Religious Beliefs as Valid Vaccination Exemption

UPDATE: On June 30th, Gov. Jerry Brown signed this bill into law. California is now the largest state to require all schoolchildren to be vaccinated (unless they are exempt for medical reasons).

Although the California measles outbreak is no longer making daily headlines, the government has still been working diligently to prevent an outbreak like this from ever happening again.

Yesterday, the California House successfully approved a proposal—46 to 30—that would deem a family's personal and religious beliefs as an illegal reason to exempt children from mandatory school vaccinations. If the Senate approves the proposal's amendments it will advance to Gov. Jerry Brown in order to gain final approval.

If made into law, California would be the 33rd state to outlaw families from opting out of mandatory vaccines due to their belief system. The only exception to the law would happen when the State Department of Public Health deemed a medical exemption appropriate.

"California parents will be forced to give their children more than 40 doses of 10 federally recommended vaccines or homeschool unless they can find a doctor to write a medical exemption that doctors deny to 99.99 percent of children under federal guidelines," said one oppositional group, Californians for Vaccine Choice.

Aside from traditional homeschooling, parents who decide against vaccination could also participate in multifamily homeschool programs or use public school's independent study option.

"Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with cancer, organ transplants and other conditions are counting on us to make sure science prevails," said California Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician who co-introduced the proposal.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

Should parents follow a strict vaccine schedule or is there room for flexibility?

Image: Vaccine vial via Shutterstock

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