California Governor Newsom signs controversial vaccine bills

Senate bills 276 and 714  imposes tighter restrictions on medical exemptions for vaccines

Despite strong showings from anti-vaccine protesters, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, Sept. 9 signed into state law wide-ranging restrictions on doctor-signed medical exemptions for otherwise mandatory vaccines.

Together, SB 276 and SB 714 would establish a stricter oversight over the medical exemptions that doctors may issue to those who want to opt their children out of the vaccines required for public and private schools and child care centers.

Per the bill, the California Health Department would review exemption forms issued by physicians who honor more than five medical exemption requests in a year or in school districts with low rates of immunizations. 

“This legislation provides new tools to better protect public health, and does so in a way that ensures parents, doctors, public health officials and school administrators all know the rules of the road moving forward,” Newsom said in a statement. 

Newsom’s signing of both bills quickly follow the Legislature’s approval of both bills. After the vote in the State Assembly, hordes of protesters loudly chanted “protect our children” as the lawmakers filed out of the chamber.

“I thank the Governor for standing with science and once again making California a leader in safeguarding children and communities from diseases that threaten our public health,” CA Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who authored SB 276, wrote in a statement.

“It is my hope that parents whose vulnerable children could die from vaccine-preventable diseases will be reassured that we are protecting communities that have been left vulnerable because a few unscrupulous doctors are undermining community immunity by selling inappropriate medical exemptions,” Pan wrote. 

According to the bill’s supporters, SB 276 was a direct response to allegations that some doctors were issuing unnecessary exemptions, many of which were requested by parents who believe vaccines are harmful to the development of their children. 

Since the bill was introduced, hundreds of parents have been flocking to Sacramento to protest the bill’s advancement in the state, arguing that it would hinder the doctor-patient relationship and would discourage doctors from writing new medical exemptions. 

California which has among the strictest immunization measures passed the legislation amid the worst measles outbreak in the United States in more than 20 years with 1,200 diagnosed this year alone. 

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