Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Federal Judge Refuses to Block New California Vaccine Law

Parents and anti-vaccine groups sought an injunction


September 1, 2016

10 vaccines are now required for California schoolchildren.

A federal judge has refused to block a new California vaccination law, which eliminates an exemption based on the parents' personal beliefs. The law requires children in both public and private schools to be inoculated against 10 contagious illnesses.

"Society has a compelling interest in fighting the spread of contagious diseases through mandatory vaccination of school-age children," said U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego. He noted in Friday's ruling that the California Supreme Court had upheld mandatory vaccination for schoolchildren as long ago as 1890.

Seventeen parents and four anti-vaccine organizations sought an injunction against enforcement of the law.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say 33,000 students in California whose parents oppose vaccinations will be denied enrollment unless they agree to be vaccinated, and argued that they were being denied the right to freely practice their religion. Sabraw countered that their religious right "does not outweigh the state's interest in public health and safety."

He cited a 1944 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibited a young girl from distributing religious literature on the streets in violation of a Massachusetts child-labor law. The family's claim of religious freedom in that case "does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease," the high court said.

Although the right to an education is strongly protected by California law, Sabraw said that right must give way to the public interest in protecting children's health.

The new, stricter, law was prompted by a measles outbreak in 2014 that was traced to Disneyland visitors who hadn't been vaccinated. Implemented just last month, the measure makes California one of only three states, along with West Virginia and Mississippi, to require all students to be vaccinated against illnesses such as measles, mumps, tetanus, and rubella, regardless of their parents' religious or personal opposition. The only exceptions are for children with doctor-certified medical exemptions and for disabled students in individualized education programs.

Parents must provide a shot record for children entering either kindergarten of seventh grade.

California parents are now required to provide immunization records when their child is entering kindergarten or the seventh grade. That means an elementary-school student who already has a parental exemption will not need to be vaccinated until the seventh grade, and students in the eighth grade or higher won't require any vaccinations.

In announcing the suit on July 1, plaintiff's attorney Robert Moxley said the law "has made second-class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated."

Opponents went to court after they failed to qualify a state ballot referendum to undo the law.

State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, one of the sponsors of the vaccine law, praised the ruling for helping to make schools safer. The law was also sponsored by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.

Plaintiff's attorney Kim Mack Rosenberg said they are planning an appeal.


Reader Comments(4)

Tonya writes:

Have you ever asked the nurse to read a pamphlet on the vaccine they are going to give your child? Each one of them lists the possible side effects along the risk %. Each vaccine has a side effect that is called DEATH! How can you mandate anything that could possibly result in death? Everybody's body is different and reacts differently. When I was a kid if someone in the neighborhood got chicken pox - your parents sent you to their house to catch it!! The government can't even balance a budget ... they have no business telling people what they HAVE to inject into their bodies to attend a school that their tax dollars pay for. It's sure funny ... the government says it's okay for a woman to have the choice to abort an unborn child ... but they don't allow a parent to make a choice not to vaccinate. It's not about the community - that's the story the government and the lobbyist sell. It's about the money and the pharamceutical lobbyists. Just follow the money trail....

commonsense writes:

@Steph - Some children are not able to be vaccinated because of allergies or other health issues, such as cancer. When all of the other kids have been vaccinated, then that one who cannot handle the vaccine is not very likely to encounter another unvaccinated child who is carrying the virus. If, however, a lot of children's parents have not vaccinated out of choice, rather than medical necessity, then the odds of one unvaccinated child encountering another unvaccinated child with the virus are greatly increased. For the kid with cancer or other illness, that could be a death sentence. This is called the herd effect. The more members of the herd who are vaccinated, the less likely it is that the virus will spread through the herd and encounter one of those who cannot survive the virus. Vaccination isn't just about your own child, it is about the safety of the whole community.

Steph writes:

It always amazes me how upset people get about non vaccinated children when children with vaccines are supposed to be protected by the vaccines. For example, how did the non-vaccinated person cause an outbreak at Disneyland among persons who were up to date on vaccines? Don't the vaccines work? Why would an unvaccinated person be a health risk or danger to anyone except to those who chose not to be vaccinated?

sactoparent writes:

Illogical false emergency basis for SB 277: 1) No equivalent vaccine requirement to: a) Work in a restaurant in direct contact with your food b) Enter a restaurant and breath, sneeze, and re-use your plate in the salad bar c) Sit in close proximity with passengers in recycled air on airlines d) Work as a staffer or Senator at the State Capitol - which is visited by school children e) Visit Disneyland and waterparks - an unvaccinated child is still allowed to fly from a dirty Rio or Mumbai slum and mingle at Disneyland (where the infamous outbreak occurred). 2) Over a dozen Vaccines mandated to: a) Sit in a desk in a classroom - public or private. This includes vaccines for HEP-B, an STD shared by blood and needles! What risk does a HEP-b negative, unvaccinated, child pose to others? This is an insidious approach - because failure to fully vaccinate - a civil statute - can lead to CPS and criminal prosecution for truancy.


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