A bill that would eliminate the personal belief exemption allowing parents to opt out of vaccinating their children has passed the California Senate and is now being considered by the state Assembly.
Senate Bill 277 was passed on May 14 by a vote of 25 to 10.
"As a pediatrician, I have personally witnessed children suffering life-long injury and death from vaccine-preventable infection," said Dr. Richard Pan, a physician and senator representing Sacramento and West Sacramento who was one of the bill's authors. Sen. Pan said that 32 other states do not allow parents to opt out of vaccination requirements using a personal belief exemption.
If the bill becomes law, only a medical exemption would remain. Children who are not vaccinated would have to be home-schooled.
When the Almanac reported on this issue in February, Menlo Park's Peninsula School, according to statistics from the California Department of Public Health, had the highest reported percentage of personal-belief exemptions in San Mateo County for the 2014-15 school year: 30 percent of this year's 30 kindergartners (nine students).
The opt-out rate at Peninsula has been even higher in the past. State statistics show that the school had a 46 percent personal-belief exemption rate for children in its 2010-11 kindergarten class.
Las Lomitas School in Atherton has the highest public school opt-out rate in the local area. In February, the school said it had 137 kindergartners, with eight students opted out with personal-belief exemptions and two others with permanent medical exemptions, for a 93 percent vaccination rate.