Gov. Brown today signed one of the strictest laws in the nation requiring vaccinations for schoolchildren, saying “science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious diseases.”
The new law bars parents from invoking religious or personal beliefs in order to keep their children from being vaccinated. The law does, however, allow a child to be exempt if the youngster’s physician believes that vaccination would pose a threat to the child’s health, based on medical history or other factors cited by the doctor.
The governor’s signature, which was expected, came one day after the Legislature approved the bill, SB 277 by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and sent it to Brown’s desk.
The public debate over what initially appeared to be routine legislation intensified in recent months, fueled in part by a concerted social media effort. There were numerous reports of harassment of the bill’s supporters by anti-vaccination forces, and threats against Pan and others for their role in crafting the legislation.
Opponents said mandatory vaccination violated parental rights, but Brown said the public’s health came first.
“While it is true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community,” the governor wrote in his signing message.
A survey by the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California showed that nearly two-thirds of public school parents supported vaccinations.