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    Governor signs new vaccine bill for California children

    By Michael Hernandez 

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new vaccine bill on Monday, Sept. 10—the day after Grandparents’ Day—that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  The action on the hotly protested bill (by parents) comes after the state Senate passed SB 276 containing amendments that would revoke what lawmakers called “bogus” medical exemptions in a 27-11 vote.  The bill was also approved by the state Assembly in a 43-14 vote.

    The bill which tightens the criteria for vaccine exemptions for all public and charter school students was signed by the governor after Senate (author and medical doctor) Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Health and Human Service Secretary Mark Ghaly, a pediatrician and the former director of health and social impact for Los Angeles County reached an agreement.  Co-author of the bill was Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

    Proponents of the new signed measure state that the exemptions left some communities under-protected from vaccine-preventable illnesses.  These proponents include:  the American Academy of Pediatrics who have been concerned over the rising number of measles cases in California and nationwide with over 500 cases reported in the first three months of 2019 (which equals the total amount of cases nationwide reported in 2018) as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Medical Association (CMA), the main sponsor of the bill.  The CMA paid Republican strategist Mike Madrid to lead a social media campaign in July aimed at boosting pro-vaccination messages to parents on social media.

    SB 276 would require California doctors to use only federally accepted criteria for issuing exemptions and install state oversight of the exemptions and the doctors who issue them.  State health officials would have the power to revoke exemptions  found to be fraudulent.  Medical exemptions allow children to not be subject to immunization due to a medical condition.  According to California Healthline, the number of children in California who have been granted a medical exemption has tripled.

    A major opponent of the bill, Orange County pediatrician Dr. Robert Sears (responsible for one-third of the medical exemptions from San Diego) is the only doctor in the state to be disciplined over improperly issuing vaccine exemptions.  Dr. Sears called the State’s actions a “broad overreach from a government that is supposed to protect its medically fragile children.”

    An earlier bill also authored by Dr. Pan passed in 2015 and eliminated vaccine exemptions based on personal and religious beliefs.


    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts.  Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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