- Over a hundred protesters were at the California State Capitol in opposition to Senate Bill 276 and SB 714
- The bills make it harder for parents to receive a medical exemption from vaccinations for their children
- In 2015 SB 277 banned exemption from vaccine due to personal beliefs but in the years since medical exemptions have tripled
- Public health officials believe there has been a number of fake medical exemptions over the last three years
- A handful of protesters were arrested at the Capitol and some were also detained as the bills moved through the Assembly and the Senate
- California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bills into law on after they passed through the Senate
At least a handful of arrests were made on Monday at the California State Capitol in Sacramento as people stood in protest of Senate Bill 276 and companion bill, SB 714, which were created to combat alleged fake medical exemptions from vaccines.
Senate Bill 276 And Senate Bill 714
Medical exemptions are given typically to children to allow parents to refuse vaccinations related to a medical condition. The majority of medical reasons to delay or refuse vaccinations are limited by the government and medical trade officials according to the National Vaccine Information Center. However, up to this point, under California law, it has not been difficult to receive a medical exemption.
Without SB 276 and SB 714, doctors in California have the authority to issue medical exemptions from vaccinations without the approval of the state’s Department of Public Health. This has led experts to believe doctors are being too liberal when issuing these medical exemptions. California has allegedly seen a drastic spike in medical exemptions to vaccines in the last two years. Dr. Tara Zandvliet told California Healthline that only 1 in 10 families that contact her for an exemption have a legitimate reason.
Senate Bill 277
In 2015, California passed Senate Bill 277, which stripped away exemption from vaccination for personal beliefs. While lawmakers believed SB 277 would have cut back on unnecessary exemptions, a study from the CDPH showed that while exemptions based on personal beliefs was four times lower than years before, medical exemptions among kindergartners had tripled. The reason why the number of personal belief exemption did not drop to zero after SB 277 is due to some exemptions grandfathered in under the law. The study showed a high chance that those who were no longer allowed to use their personal beliefs as a reason for exemption simply found a doctor willing to give them a medical exemption. Public health officials have suspected a number of the increased medical exemptions are fake.
The push against SB 276 and SB 714 has gained a lot of attention over the month and even caught the eye of actress Jessica Biel. After some claimed Biel was part of the anti-vaxx movement, she cleared the rumors in a post on Instagram on June 13. Biel explained that she is not against vaccines, but she was concerned with medical exemptions in SB 276. “My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment.”
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This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!
Gavin Newsom Signs The Bills Into Law
California Governor Gavin Newsom had shown support for SB 276, but later unexpectedly withdrew his pledge and requested for a major overhaul to the legislation that his office claimed to be “technical — but important.” Opponents of the bill hoped that meant he was going to loosen medical exemption requirements but were angered once SB 714 was put together. Despite opponents anger, Newsom and the majority of the state appeared to approve of the companion bill. In May, a nonpartisan statewide survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 73% of adults believed parents should be forced to vaccinate their children. The two bills were co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Medical Association and the advocacy group Vaccinate California.
By Monday evening it was announced Newsom had signed the bills into law despite a day of protests. Several people were said to have been detained or arrested as entrances to the state Capitol were blocked by anti-vaxx protesters. At least six people were arrested by the California Highway Patrol for blocking entrances. After SB 714 passed the Assembly 43-14 it moved on to the Senate where it was also approved 27-11. Following the bill passing through the Assembly, protesters shut down the floor session chanting “protect our children.” Videos from the “We Are Vaxxed” Facebook page shows the protest that lasted throughout the day.