Now that the new school year has officially begun, the state of California is getting serious about making sure kids are vaccinated. Since July, a new law came into effect: A child will no longer be able to attend class unimmunized on the basis of a parent’s objections.
This wasn’t always the case. Previously, parents could avoid getting their kids vaccinated if they cited it was against their religious or personal beliefs. Now parents only have three options if they do not wish to vaccinate their child: Compromise and vaccinate, homeschool, or move out of the state.
The new law, known as SB 277, requires proof of immunizations as children enter school for the first time–or the 7th grade. Technically, this means parents who have kids in grades between preschool to 7th won’t have to vaccinate their kids–so there is that loophole.
According to the New York Times, parents of incoming kindergartners in California filed more than 13,000 personal belief exemptions in 2015. Robert Oakes, a spokesman for the California Department of Education, stated that schools took the preliminary steps to make sure parents were educated about the new law–and provided accessibility to vaccine clinics. He stated simply:
“It’s the right thing to do for public health, and it’s the law in California.”
Of course, not all parents are a fan of the new law. For example, Stefanie Duncan Fetzer said she personally knew of 200 families who have left the state. She claims many went to Oregon, Colorado and Texas. She described how one family “just took off.”
What do you all think of California’s new law?