California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has signed into law a new bill eliminating religious and personal belief exemptions for childhood vaccinations. California is now the third state to not permit parents to submit a religious exemption from vaccinations and the 33rd state to prohibit "personal belief" exemptions. A child can now only be medically exempt from vaccinations due to reasons like allergy to a vaccine component or immune deficiency.
While the bill was passed by the California Assembly last week, it was unclear whether or not Brown would actually sign it as there was considerable public outcry against the bill.
From the Associated Press:
Brown, a Democrat, issued a signing statement just one day after lawmakers sent him the bill to strike California's personal belief exemption for immunizations, a move that requires nearly all public schoolchildren to be vaccinated. The bill takes effect next year.
"The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases," Brown wrote. "While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."
California joins Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states with such strict requirements.
Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica introduced the measure after the outbreak at the theme park in December infected over 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico.
The bill likely would be successful in increasing immunization rates and stopping the spread of disease, pediatric doctors said Monday after the state Senate sent the legislation to the governor.
Children who are not vaccinated in California will have to be homeschooled due to this new law. Many doctors are refusing to take on patients who are not vaccinated due to the considerable risk of illness transmission to medically fragile patients in their waiting rooms.
An outbreak of measles traced back to Disneyland re-ignited the vaccine debate in California. A majority of those stricken with measles were either unvaccinated by choice or were too young to be vaccinated.