On Tuesday, June 9, I testified in Sacramento against passage of SB277. This is the bill which has already passed in the State Senate and was being considered in the Health Committee of the California State Assembly. It removes the personal belief exemption and the religious exemption to childhood vaccines. Some members of this committee wondered why this bill had not also been sent to the Education Committee. They speculated that this is a “rush job” and I believe they are correct.
After 25 minutes of presentations by the sponsors of the bill, Senator Richard Pan and Senator Ben Allen and further brief presentations by their expert witnesses, five of us who opposed the bill were given 25 minutes to present our objections and present evidence that this bill would not serve its intended purpose of improving the health of California’s children. I presented my medical thoughts about SB277.
Following these two 25-minute presentations, the committee’s members asked questions and the witnesses answered. This proceeded until all of the questions from the members were exhausted. Following this, members of the public were invited to the microphone to state their names, organization or city of residence and position on this bill. Hundreds of people participated in this phase with the vast majority opposing the bill. Some quite passionately and some too passionately and Chairman Rob Bonta cut off the microphone as he warned them he would.
The bill passed and will now move on to the floor of the Assembly.
Senator Allen comported himself with great respect for both sides of the issue and was a pleasant surprise. Even though I strongly oppose the bill he has co-authored which will mandate vaccinations for all children prior to entry in preschool, daycare, childcare, Kindergarten and all levels of school, I think he sincerely believes in this bill. Senator Pan, on the other hand, felt no need to adhere to standards of fairness and twisted facts and the sense of the bill. I expected more of him but should not have.
Discussions of amendments led to wording which improved the bill by expanding the rights of individual doctors to grant medical exemptions and clarifying some examples of reasons for these exemptions. Specifically, family medical history and genetic predisposition to harm from vaccines.
The bill still is the parent of a vaccine-injured child and an attorney who knows the legal problems with this bill better than anyone who was present in the room including the authors and the committee members. His comments about social and racial discrimination are included in the video link.
I believe that this bill will pass and will most likely be signed by Governor Brown. If it does, medical exemptions will be the only option for those who would like to vaccinate slower or not at all. These exemptions will not be difficult to justify in most families.