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California bill eliminating religious and personal belief exemptions passes in Assembly

​California Senate Bill 277, which eliminates religious and personal belief exemptions from vaccination for school children, passed in the Assembly on June 25.  It is now back before the Senate for consideration of Assembly amendments to the bill. Assuming the Senate concurs in the amendments, which appears likely, the bill heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his consideration.

If signed by Gov. Brown, California will become the third state, along with Mississippi and West Virginia, to eliminate all but medical exemptions. Students will non-medical exemptions on file as of January 1, 2016, will be allowed to enter school and retain those exemptions, in some cases through several grades.  But after July 1 of next year, no student, no matter what his or her exemption status, will be allowed to enter the seventh grade without being fully vaccinated. 

Coverage of this historic event was mostly limited to California media, likely due, at least in part, to the Supreme Court's making health care history of its own in King v. Burwell, upholding the Affordable Care Act. This decision dominated coverage by the health care media, leaving the Assembly's vote little noticed outside California. Actually, the two events have some relevance to each other: the ACA requires that childhood vaccinations be a covered health insurance benefit with no co-pay.

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