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California Just Banned the 'Personal Belief' Exemption for Vaccines

Under the new law, parents can still choose not to vaccinate their children if they wish, but those kids won’t be allowed to attend public schools.
June 30, 2015, 5:29pm

It's official: California has passed a law prohibiting parents from using personal belief as an excuse to keep their kids unvaccinated.

Under the new law, parents can still choose not to vaccinate their children if they wish, but those kids won't be allowed to attend public schools or daycares, and will have to be homeschooled.

There are a few exceptions: kids who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons are exempt from the ruling, and only 10 specific vaccines are required, including the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. Children who have special education needs will also still be guaranteed access to resources they need if they are booted from public school for being unvaccinated.

Last week, California's State Assembly considered the bill, which had already been green-lit by the state senate, ultimately voting to approve it 46-30. This week, the senate approved the amendments that were added to the bill before passing it to the desk of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the bill this morning.

"The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases," the governor wrote in a memo about his decision. "While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."

It's essential to have a critical mass of people immunized if we want to achieve herd immunity, which protects those who can't be vaccinated, like the 12 babies who contracted measles in California during an outbreak last year because they were too young to be vaccinated.

The anti-vaccination movement has had a noticeable impact on vaccination rates around the country and has been blamed, at least in part, for the recent outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis that have been cropping up in the last few years. The new law doesn't completely eliminate the impact of anti-vaxxers, but it will almost certainly serve as a motivating factor for parents to reconsider their decision to keep their kids unvaccinated.